Friday, October 12, 2007
Common Sense Refreshment
Common sense is as refreshing as a gentle rain. I say that because this year, along with family members, our Bush Man Friend (BMF), spent Thanksgiving at our house. After dinner we engaged in conversation.
Now before I continue, I need to tell you that I knew BMF since childhood. We went to the same tiny country school, but BMF had such difficulty in school that he quit long before quitting time and since then, despite so much solitary time in the bush, he has gained an enviable and most interesting education.
BMF’s tales of solitary bush life are both fascinating and original. I challenge the busiest of socialites to tell me stories about their busy lives half as fascinating as the escapades that he has to tell.
Part of the appeal of what he speaks is his jargon. He tells stories in a lovely new gendre of literary prose, refreshing and innocent. And because of this, it is quite impossible for me to retell with authenticity or titillation the stories in like-manner as they were told to me.
Whether written or spoken, he has always treated language in his own unique way. That was the problem in school. He was way too offended that ‘cow’ was not spelled ‘kow’. Being always a simple philosopher of common sense, he could not be satisfied with the feeble academic explanation the teacher attempted for such stupidity. “Why isn’t it spelled with a ‘k’?” he asked, and even yet wonders why.
And although, too often among classmates, he was a source of ridicule, it seems like the unfair criticism of how he spelled ‘cow’ cut his gentle soul the deepest. I say that because he still mentions it so often and when he does his face clouds and his lips quiver.
The other thing I need to tell you about our BMF, is his sense of graciousness. If graciousness is class, he has more class than anyone I know. When he spends time with us, we generally receive within a few days, a note of gratefulness. Written with thought and care. Each word spelled out, not as grammar dictates, but with common sense and his own phonetic interpretation. An encrypted message but easily understood, sincere, and touching to the depth of my soul.
So when BMF brings up the subject of the frustrations he has with language, as a lover of language, I tend to listen closely. This weekend he shared his own unique perspective on the standard usage of the phrase, ‘back and forth’. And, I have to say, as always, common sense ruled his thinking.
“Why do people say ‘back and forth’?” he asks, with that sweet innocence that makes all that he speaks so endearing.
“It makes no sense at all. To first go back? One can go forth and back, forth and back, forth and back. But it is impossible to go back if one has not yet gone forth!”
As a final note, BMF is too often taken advantage of because he is a dogged worker and of such a good nature.
This weekend he told us a story about compensation promised but never delivered. As it turns out, after he graciously and repeatedly asked for payment for his work, he eventually concluded that the promised payment would never be forthcoming.
But didn’t BMF tell that former employee? Yes, he did. Not with rage, or anger, or with retribution in mind. Later, much later, at a large gathering, when his former employer greeted him like an old friend, BMF looked him straight in the eye and gave him something to think about in one simple cutting statement:
“You don’t have enough man in you to make a small boy!”