Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Moms, Boop, arm-wrestling and athlete's foot

My son now has an American mother-in-law, and in due course, if he carries on the way he's gone so far, he'll soon be forgetting his New Zealand roots and saying and spelling her name, 'Mom' rather than 'Mum.'

Hopefully, when Christmas next comes round he'll have "gift ideas Mom" on his little list, otherwise he might be hearing from his Mom quick smart...!   Nah, she's not that sort of mother-in-law....

We've missed hearing from him and his new wife since they moved to Minneapolis a few days after the wedding.  They haven't been able to get broadband on in their apartment (flat to you Kiwis) even though it was supposed to be supplied by last Friday their time.   [Why do we call a place to stay a flat?  It's a very odd use of the word when you think about it.]   And talking of flats the musical director of the show I wrote, Grimhilda! has also been having trouble getting broadband installed in his new flat (apartment to you Yankees), so he and I have been communicating via texts and mobile calls mostly.   At least he answers his mobile.   It always irritated me that my son - the one who's just got married - would never answer his mobile.  It always switched to the 'leave a message' section within seconds.  One of those quirks, I guess, of human nature.

Recently I've been getting a regular email from HitTail with updates telling me what words people are looking at on my blog.  I often find these a little curious: usually they will be the same few words or phrases that have been popular since I began the blog, but every so often I get a list such as the one below where the words/phrases are from posts that have hardly achieved notoriety on my blog.

betty boop  blogs
armwrestling my wife
common horse liniment  

Betty Boop has only ever appeared once on my blog, as far as I can tell, and that was when I posted a video of one of the old Betty Boop cartoons and made some comments about it.  It was hardly a spectacular post.   [That's Betty being her usual coy self, in the picture on the right.]

The second phrase also turns up in only one post, intriguingly entitled: Arm-wrestling Feminist.  This has been a more popular post, though perhaps not for the reasons you might expect from the title.  I still love the line that was part of a paragraph I quoted from a World Council of Churches document: I came to a greater awareness of my gendered self when I lost to her in arm-wrestling. I stopped arm-wrestling with my wife in the presence of my kids.  Coming to an awareness of one's gendered self via arm-wrestling strikes me as a strange way to realise who you are, gender-wise.   

The last phrase connects up with a very popular phrase that leads people to my blog: athlete's hand (or foot).  The horse liniment reference comes in a story told by Dale Ralph Davis about an enterprising salesman who found that while horse liniment was a good cure for what we now know as 'athlete's foot', it didn't sell well while it was being promoted as a cure for ringworm.  The salesman invented the phrase, athlete's foot, and the horse liniment sold like a bomb.   The liniment, by the way, which goes by the name of Absorbine, is still sold today, 118 years after it first appeared.  I don't know that it's sold as a cure for athlete's foot, anymore, though the container in which it appears as a foot remedy for horses (under the name of Hooflex) looks remarkably like the one in which Gran's Remedy is sold here in New Zealand (as a cure for athlete's foot).  

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