I know it's probably hard to believe, but even someone like me who specializes in words, both for fun and professionally, sometimes gets a little tongue tied. It's the verbal equivalent of waving your bra as you walk down the street or flashing your undies at passersby as you wait for the bus. Last week, I was at it again in a rather public way. Let me set the scene, if I may . . .
My family always hosts a big Christmas Eve party for family and friends, and this year was no different. My mother has a group of friends that she's had for years, the Church Ladies (not called this because they are actually patrons of a particular religious establishment, but that's what they're called), who always come to our party. There's food and drink and great company . . . you know how parties are.
So anyway, during the party last week, everyone was mingling and nibbling and generally making merry. I looked over at the coffee table and noticed that a new plate had appeared with crackers and an interesting looking cheese. I looked at my mother and asked, maybe a little loudly, "What's with the crackers?" She looked confused and her fellow Church Lady, Jean, started ribbing me about it. Church Ladies #2 and #3, Ginny and Candy jumped in next. "Ey, yo, what's wit da crackers?" they teased. "No, no," I stuttered and stammered, "what's with the crackers, you know what's with them?" I didn't really help my case much as I tried to explain myself. I think I finally managed to (really badly) explain myself, but it didn't matter. The fire had been lit.
WH, never wanting to miss an opportunity to get a laugh at my expense, responded with, "In most western countries it's customary to serve cheese with crackers," which set the group off again. We couldn't go 10 minutes without someone saying, "What's with the crackers?" much to the confusion of the guests who weren't privvy to my gaffe. I never did find out what was accompanying the crackers (which was what I wanted to know, but had asked so poorly), but I did supply the catchphrase for the evening. So it turns out, what was with the crackers was a side of wiseass. As it should be, especially on Christmas.