On being amused by small things in spite of everything

Don Imus may have gotten the most attention for mis-speaking last week, but I found more enjoyment in the small malapropisms that got no attention at all.

Last week, for example, my attention was diverted from the bomb in the Green Zone by the pronouncer who told us that it went off in a place “often frequented” by Iraqi legislators. It made me wonder whether there are places “occasionally frequented” by the legislators?

Earlier in the week I was interested to hear another pronouncer speak of “dangerous accidents” – as opposed, no doubt, to safe accidents.

Such mis-speakings are, of course, an almost daily occurrence, but some are more memorable than others. I have always remembered fondly the news account of the purchase of the Mets by Nelson Doubleday. Doubleday, we were told, “has been a native of New York all his life.”

And going further back, to my years in Tokyo (when the Far East Network of the Armed Forces Broadcasting system used to break every hour for news “from back in the world”) I have never forgotten the story of a demonstration somewhere in which, we were told, demonstrators had gathered to “shout epitaphs.”

Much more recently I have been gritting my teeth as parish mailings arrived with a schedule of services for “Easter Sunday.” Do clergy not look at their Prayer Books but take their cues from the culture? Of course, the news media say “Easter Sunday,” but what do they know? The Book of Common Prayer is making a significant point: Easter is not just a Sunday, it is The Day of the whole year. But that’s too subtle, I suppose, for a world that has tolerated Don Imus’ idea of humor all this time.

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