A Good Word or a Turn of  Phrase

            Last night I was tired.   I was talking with Mom and I said to her, “This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday and the next Easter is”…..I couldn’t quite finish that statement, so I tried again.   “Next Sunday is Palm Easter”….that was worse!   When I told my brother Dave who had just gotten in from Reno about Palm Easter, we decided that this new presence in the Church calendar would greatly simplify the Liturgical Year, however, Dave was worried that the readings might be very long for that Sunday. 

            I don’t know if “Palm Easter” will survive to become family lore, but there are classic things that are said or written that somehow strike a chord and become part of what we say.   Here are a couple of e-mail examples.

            Mrs. Carroll was receiving some award, and I was supposed to write a biography and a tribute to her.   I asked various people to make a contribution and one of these was Father Vander Woude.   Father’s response was, “Yikes!”   That one word struck me as so funny, so I waited for an opportunity to use “Yikes!”  It came when we got a call from our Texas cousins that they had just crossed into Colorado and they were headed our way.   I e-mailed sisters Kath and Wendy who work at the same place with the heading, “Yikes!”   The message explained the surprise visit.   Kath’s response, “Start cleaning; we’ll be there as soon as we can.” 

    The second example is very recent.   Christendom Admissions Office sent out an e-mail to all Colorado alumni telling us that there was to be a Catholic Collge Fair at Machebeuf High School here in Denver, and asked if there was someone who would man the CC table for the event.   I responded in a way I was certain that I would not be asked to represent the College, “I could probably do this, but it would be better if you got someone younger and better looking.” Zac in Admissions began his reply with “Roger that!”  

            I instantly liked Zac.   As it turned out, the only other responses he got were negatives, so I was chosen despite age and looks.   Then some things happened here, so that this past Monday I didn’t want to be the representative.   Quick thinking as always, I went in desperation to my sister Barb to see if maybe she could represent Christendom, after all, she had been to the campus more recently than I because she was there for Dr. Carroll’s burial.   She, equally quick thinking, then asked Nathaniel, her son, if he would man the table because he had attended CC’s Summer Program a few years back.   At the end of the their talk, it was decided that either Nathaniel by himself, or Barb by herself, or Barb and Nathaniel together would be CC’s representatives.   On Saturday they decided that they would be a team, and they even went out and bought Snickers to give away to those who visited the Christendom table.  The protocol Barb followed when someone came by the table was to hand out a brochure, tell the visitor to read it in leisure and then contact the admissions office.     

            “Roger that!” has to be used often, and, in fact, I have already used it.   Someone was asking me about the “this day” in Our Lord’s words to St. Dismas, the Good Thief:  “Amen, amen I say to you, this day you shall be with Me in Paradise”.   Mrs. Carroll happened to be handy, so I asked her – just to give her some practice in apologetics.   She said that her friend Mrs. Heppner suggests that there needs to be more punctuation in that statement, perhaps like this:   “Amen, amen I say to you this day, ‘You shall be with Me in Paradise’”.  That means that “this day” refers to the time of the speaking, but the “with Me in Paradise” is futuristic and indeterminate.

            So I sent that response to the inquirer and finished the e-mail with, “Roger that?”  

            The reply I got was, “Roger”.

            Sometimes phrases become memorable just because of the way in which they were said.   Terri Egan’s line from Arsenic and Old Lace , “A good idea” was popular between Mr. Scheetz and me because of the way she said it in the play.   So any time one or the other of us had a good idea, which was often, the other would say in the Terri Egan cadence, “A good idea.”  

            Speaking of Egans, that reminds me of another ancient Seton famous line, “Who threw the grape?”   You know, Steve, I’m glad you threw it….now.  Then, well, not so much.

            And years later it was, “Who threw the Twinkie?”

            A good word or a turn of a phrase, they can conjure up an encyclopedia of fond memories.


Jezu, ufam Tobie.