Friday, November 09, 2007

You Can Lead A Bulldog To Food But You Can't Make Him Sing For His Supper ...

A sad if not ironic announcement came over the car radio recently. The announcer was describing traffic conditions in and around the various areas of Houston. He said, “And here’s some good news for those of you traveling I-45 North. The fatality accident that has been blocking all lanes for more than two hours has been cleared to the shoulder so now, you should be able to enjoy clear sailing on into Conroe.” Now, think about what was said. It’s like saying, “I’m sorry someone got killed because it tied up traffic for hours.” What about the family of the deceased? Was that “good news” announcement a consolation to them? Sometimes our spoken and/or written words just do not come out the way they should.

Some of my favorite “bloopers” are those written in church bulletins. For example:

“Your fee for the Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.”

“Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.”

“At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What Is Hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.”

“Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM – prayer and medication to follow.”

“This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.”

“Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.”

When I was in the ministry I had my own share of typos and mis-speaks. Once I announced to the congregation, “Be sure to attend our evening service. We’ll be discussing the Godance of Guide.” Another time I explained to a crowd of about 500 that, “Holiness is not a mild little grandmother sitting in a rocking chair with a lap in her Bible.”

And to encourage the congregation, our church bulletin reported that, “One of our mission program goals for the New Year will be to send Michael Seymour to the Philippians” (meaning Philippines).

Another goal in that same bulletin was, “We want to improve our pubic image.”

One time, my college newspaper printed the following item: “Geoffrey Benson will be on stage Friday night performing a guitar rectal.”

I remember as a teenager reading the following in the Beaumont Enterprise. It was not a typo but the manager of the Circle Drive-In Theater evidently was trying to promote the casual drive-in environment when he submitted, “Don’t bother to dress. Come on out for an evening of fun.”

Slips of the tongue or “Tips of the Slung” were made popular by the Reverend William Archibald Spooner, who was Dean and President of New College, Oxford. His name is where we derived the term, “spoonerism.” This describes linguistic flip-flops that turn “a well-oiled bicycle” into “a well-boiled icicle” and other such mess-ups that haunt public speakers.

Spooner was the champion of “slung tips.” One day in history class he reprimanded one of his tardy students by stating, “You hissed my mystery lecture.” Then he added in disgust, “You have tasted two worms.”

Once, Spooner raised his toast to Her Highness Victoria with, “Three cheers for our queer old dean!” And his goofs at chapel were classic such as, “Our Lord is a shoving leopard.” He officiated a wedding and prompted the bridegroom, “Son, it is now kisstomary to cuss the bride.”

Radio announcer Harry Von Zell introduced president Herbert Hoover as Hoobert Heever. And Lowell Thomas presented British Minister Sir. Stafford Cripps as … well, never mind. Let’s just say Thomas made a mess of that situation.

When I hear or read a spoonerism, it tickles my bunny phone.

Winston Hamby


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