by Kung Fu Zu 3/2/15
Like many other three year olds, I had trouble pronouncing some of the words I commonly used. One such word sticks in my mind for reasons which will become apparent. That word was “sandwich,” which I pronounced as something between “sanfitch and samfitch.”
Three year olds are generally cute, and precocious three olds are even cuter, particularly when they come up with new ways of saying common words. Thus nobody corrected my “samfitch” and perhaps just as importantly; even had I realized that my pronunciation of sandwich was somewhat amiss, there was little incentive to change it. Being cute and fawned on is pleasant.
One morning I happened to be hungry and thought a sandwich would be just the thing to remedy the situation. I went looking for my mother, the fount of all food, intending to finagle my way into an early snack. Unfortunately, when I found her, she was sitting in the living room, speaking to a neighbor. She said she was busy and couldn’t make my sandwich. But she did call my older brother into the room and asked him to take me to the kitchen and make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Off he went toward the kitchen with me in tow. As we trotted through the kitchen door, my brother closed it behind us. I found this odd as the door was generally left open.
I stood to my brother’s right side at the end of the kitchen counter, watching him gather the necessary ingredients to assemble my meal. Once he started to spread the peanut butter a funny look came over his face. He shot me a side-ways glance. I found this somewhat disturbing.
Out of nowhere, he asked me, “How do you say it?”
Noting a distinct hostility in his tone, I shrank back slightly and said, “Say what?”
“Sandwich” he shot back. “How do you say it?”
“Uh, samfitch?” I whispered.
He turned to me and said, “I’m going to count to three, and if you don’t say “SANDWICH” by then, I’m going to punch you.”
The peril of my situation hit home. I was alone in the kitchen with someone six years older and much stronger than I. Mommy, my protector, was cut off from me by that deviously closed door. Worse still, there was some woman up front and mommy would not be happy to have a ruckus take place while that guest was having coffee in the living room.
“One!” rang out my brother’ voice.
“Samfitch,” again, came my hesitant reply.
My brother’s face grew more menacing as he spat out “two” somewhat more loudly than before.
“Sanfitch,” said I in a pleading tone.
“Three,” boomed my brother towering above me, one hand raised ready to strike and a sandwich in the other.
I was trapped, seconds from destruction. My heart was pounding, my chest was heaving. I was past asking for pity, I had arrived at panic.
My brother slowly drew back his hand emphasizing the lethal power with which I was about to be obliterated.
Seeing my approaching annihilation, I shouted out in desperation, “Sandwich, sandwich.”
Suddenly, a smile came over my brother’s face. He lowered his fist and gave me the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Patting me on the head he said “see?” and left the room.
Shaken by my recent experience, I remained in the kitchen pondering the ways of those older and larger than myself.
Looking back I should say that, while the experience was somewhat traumatic, I have never mispronounced the word sandwich since that day almost sixty years ago. Perhaps my brother could have taught Professor Henry Higgins a thing or two. • (1501 views)