Me: (to 20-year-old son at breakfast) Paul, are you going to eat those last two pieces of cantaloupe?
Paul: Why does everyone keep offering me food this morning? Zheesh!
Me: I’m not forcing food on you, I just want to eat it if you’re not going to. But I’ll leave it if you want it.
Wife: Yeah, Paul, Dad is like a vulture waiting to woosh down and devour it.
Paul: (to brother) Hey Evan, do you realize Mom just called Dad a vulture?
Evan: MOM? (he exclaims with pretended shock) You called Dad a vulture?
Me: Don’t worry, guys, she’s called me worse.
(Silence with Paul and Evan. My wife is quietly laughing. Then, a grin spreads across Paul’s face—the first of the morning. He’s been sleepy and only now is waking up.)
Paul: Good one, Dad! I’ll have to remember that one, he chuckles.
(Final note: I always know that Paul’s wheels are finally turning when he cracks that first mischievous grin of the morning.)
Snippet #2: Elevated Vocabulary
Me: Look out there on the lawn. We had a frost last night.
Wife: “There’s frost on the pumpkin.” That’s what my mom used to say, even though we never had any pumpkins growing at our house.
(Paul and Evan are snickering at the old-fashioned-sounding expression)
Me: That, guys, is a saying that even I’ve never heard.
Paul: Oh, come on Dad, it’s used about as often as the word ‘gregarious.’
(Background context: For the past month, Paul has been roasting me over using the word ‘gregarious.’ He had never heard it before and is sure the word is obsolete or old-fashioned. He maintains: “I’ve never heard that word in my life!”)
Me: (getting calmly defensive) Now let’s be fair: Expressions like “There’s frost on the pumpkin” are expressions that can be regional, or used in certain families and not others. (My wife’s family is from Wisconsin).
Paul: Yeah, and ‘gregarious’ is a word from a different generation—an older one. Such vocabulary words aren’t used anymore.
Wife: Words like ‘gregarious’ still come up in GRE tests and in academic articles and books we’re reading in my graduate studies. You know, the vocabulary words we use now compared to a hundred years ago has narrowed.
Paul: Good thing!