Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vocabulary, humor in

Have you noticed how some words inspire a grin, maybe even a laugh? There may be no discernible reason for the humor. A word or phrase is often amusing only to a group, something that reminds them of a shared experience.

Our family has a few of these, as most families do. For example, the phrase "nut roll" is invoked when a family member doesn't hear what another person has said, and we smile, all because of a short yet memorable incident that occurred at a Colorado truck stop during a summer road trip.

One of our favorite words came up last night after we booked airline tickets with Midwest Airlines. I clicked on the Baggage tab to see what the Checked Baggage Fees would be and there, as I scrolled down the list, was an item that made me laugh loudly enough that Ken came into the room to see what was up. Here is the list:

Oversized Baggage
Charges will apply to items such as bicycles, scuba gear, surfboards, etc.
. $50 each way (nonstop or connect) for each bicycle.
. $75 each way (nonstop or connect) for each piece 63"-110".
. $100 each way (nonstop or connect) for antlers.


What is this, Fawlty Towers? Out of the blue, here was a word that is hilarious to all of the Lees. It's funny, of course, to find such an odd thing itemized in a baggage list. I would really like to know what happened in the past to cause the airline to give a set of antlers its very own fee. Perhaps (could it be true?) enough people travel with antlers that it warranted having a stated fee for them. Johnny Carson occasionally invited airline workers to display some of the things people had attempted to check as luggage. A 7-foot potted palm tree was one of those items so antlers may not be that unusual. But...why...?

We used to play a game, long ago when our kids were much younger, a game in which two people would stand and face one another. The players would take turns saying a single word while remaining expressionless. The goal was to find a word that would make the other person smile. Someone once won the game with the word 'antlers.' Why is it such an entertaining word? Who knows? For us, it just is. It's even funnier if we see it in print. That oversize baggage list was a double whammy, coming across it so unexpectedly.

It's the little things, apparently, that make my day.

Overheard on Twitter: I love the word "obfuscate" and I wish I had more reason to use it in my everyday life.

Next time: who knows? Stay tuned.

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