Friday, July 27, 2007
Ar-Kansas

I'm off to Hot Springs, Arkansas tomorrow to see my one remaining grandparent and his hideous hag of a wife.

Have I ever told you about Hot Springs? It's an interesting place. I lived there for a bit during high school -- I actually attended three of the local high schools while I was there, but that's another story for another time -- and it was without doubt the biggest shithole I ever called home, though not without its charms. I met my first love there, had my first kiss there, my first stepfather died there, and I spent some time there years later working at a film festival where I met some surprisingly influential filmmakers, which was pretty cool. It was a documentary fest, though, so you can take that to mean "influential among documentarians," which is to say that nobody outside that tiny, geeky world will ever have heard of them. But I figure you could say the same about a lot of the people signing books at Comic-Con this week, so let's just agree to respect each other's values and leave it at that.

Does anyone know if Chris Ware happens to be at Comic-Con? I'm not really a comix girl, but I loves me some Ware. He'd probably justify some giddy fan-spazzery. I'd be into that.

When I lived in England, my boyfriend at the time -- he was English, I should point out, which will make this story make more sense -- had this amusingly ignorant way of getting certain American words wrong. Which is fair enough, since I got a few British words wrong during my time there, too; but somehow he found it much more annoying when I snickered at him than I did when he did it to me. That seemed to be true of lots of other things, as well -- there was a definite pattern. Anyway, he got really annoyed one evening over the word "Arkansas."

Since I'm an American, I pronounce the word "Arkansas" as "Arkansaw." You do too, right? Of course you do, because that's the accepted pronunciation. My English boyfriend, however, invariably pronounced it to rhyme with its next-door-neighbor Kansas, so it became "Ar-Kansas." Whenever he did it I'd always smirk to myself because it's funny, but I wouldn't correct him -- it's just fucking Arkansas, who cares? He can pronounce it however he likes. And sometimes the British mis-pronunciation is an improvement -- like, saying "Chrysler" as "chryzler" with a really long "y": "chryyyyzler." Or saying "Maryland" as a hard "mary-land," which sounds damn close to "merry-land!" I mean, the thought of living in Merry-land and driving a Chryyyyzler doesn't sound so bad, and certainly not bad enough to kill yourself over, which is what I'd feel like doing if we pronounced it the usual way. So that's a net plus for humanity. (And if any of you bastards points out that I live in Mississippi and drive a Ford, I'll cut you, I swear.)

On the other hand, he always pronounced "Michigan" and "Mitch-igan," which still cracks me up.

Where the hell was I going with this? Oh, right, Ar-Kansas. Okay.

So one evening, over dinner, we were talking and the subject of my time in Arkansas came up in conversation. And mid-bite he paused and asked, "so how far is it from Arkansaw to Ar-Kansas?"

Um... what?

"How far is it between them? Are they close together? Because it seems like it would be confusing if they were very close together, having two places with such similar names."

Yeah, it took a couple of seconds for that one to penetrate. And then I laughed in his face -- not on purpose, it just happened. After I explained it to him, he was in a pissy mood for the rest of the night -- I tried to tell him that it was a perfectly understandable, if delightfully absurd, mistake. I hadn't realized he thought he was talking about a different place than I was. It was just fucking Arkansas, anyway, so who cares? But none of it helped -- this was a guy who was happiest when he was in a foul mood, so I just left him to it. He was British -- Japanese porn and being a bitch were the only things he had to live for, so who am I to take them away?

Did you know that Hot Springs used to be very popular among the rich and infamous? It's even mentioned in The Great Gatsby. Al Capone used to hang out there. It remains a mafia town to this very day. And apparently there's a huge S&M convention that comes to town every year. My grandfather took me into the men's room in the lobby of the Majestic Hotel once to show me their frankly amazing vintage urinal -- it was a quarter-ton slab of solid Italian marble that actually had an indentation worn in it where its users had habitually directed their streams. It was the most fabulous pissoir I've ever seen.

That's pretty much the town in a nutshell.
8:44 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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