I blame it on my reading.
I figured out how to understand the squiggly lines on a page when I was 4. In the past, children weren’t encouraged to read in Kindergarten. The best thing for young brains was play, back in the day.
But my brain wouldn’t listen. So in between playing tag in the playground, I picked up the picture books scattered in my parents’ bookshelf, and I figured out that R U N meant to run! And S E E meant to see! A rather miraculous development, turning squiggles into words that make a sentence and more sentences into a paragraph and then a story.
A phenomenon that got me in trouble.
You see, by seven years of age I was reading books that included words like phenomenal and flabbergasted. I didn’t hear these words often in my “outside-of-reading” world, so I guessed at their pronunciation. Ah, another word I could read but not PROnunce.
So when I talked, I talked funny, saying things like, “Wow, Joey that catch was phee NO MEN ial.” And when I got an A in a math test I’d proclaim, “I’m flapperGASed.”
After a while, Joey and Sally and all of the neighborhood gang began to giggle at me.
So did my parents, to the point that they’d repeat a word I mispronounced and include it in their own vernacular (oh, yes, I’d say that word too – “Please don’t make fun of my VERNAcuLAir.”
“Pammy,” they’d reply, “don’t be RiDICKulus. You’re too cute.”
Well, at 10 I didn’t want to be “cute.” I wanted to be taken syrupusly.
I gave up on long words.
I spoke in mini-sentences with short words and shorter meanings.
“I don’t want to go.”
“No, thank you.”
“Leave me alone.”
My path toward becoming an in TROVE ert began.
The good news is that the more time I spent by myself, the more time I read. The more time I read, the more long words I learned to mispronounce. And by the time I was in my late 20s and dating a handsome guy, I liked the fact that when I asked for a drought of beer (it’s called a ‘draft,’ sweetie) and some Wor-ces-ter-shire with my steak (“do you mean woo-stuh-sher” cutie pie?), I once again loved long words.