The Bad Typewriter
Ed’s quirky accent and idiosyncratic use of the English language was often amusing. Although his vocabulary was rich and sophisticated – certainly more so than mine – he did make some rather endearing mistakes. He once informed a woman interviewing him for a job that he was ‘a bad typewriter.’
“Go get a chopstick from my medicine cabinet,” he told me one time when my lips were chapped. And once while in the car I needed a Kleenex and he told me, “Look in the glove department.” Ed was a horrible driver and often asked me why other cars were “horning” at him.
Ed was always returning shoes because “they hurt my feet fingers.” And one day he excitedly announced: “Kitty, we just got a fitting room!” I couldn’t understand why the Edgecliff would want a tailor in the building, but nonetheless, I followed him to see the new room. It was a workout room.
But by far my favorite was when he asked a clerk at Walgreen’s, “Do you have any hangovers?” He wanted clip-on sunglasses. You know – they ‘hang over’ your regular glasses. Needless to say the clerk was taken aback.
Ed had a strong accent. For one thing, he couldn’t pronounce ‘th.’ That made for a rather interesting name change for his friend Henry Sexton III, whom he always innocently called Henry Sexton ‘the turd.’ Try as I might, I could never teach him how to pronounce ‘third.’ Not only did he have trouble pronouncing ‘th,’ he didn’t comprehend it either. One day he complained to me that a student had greeted him impertinently by saying “Hi, dear.” After a moment’s thought I started laughing, assuming the student had said, “Hi, there.”
His accent and unusual formality combined did not go unnoticed by others either. One day he called me at work and asked my colleague, Dr. Gibson, who answered the phone, “Gud oft-air-noon, sir. If you be so kind, may I please speak to Doc-tair Ma-r-r-rie Marley?”
Jay dialed my extension. “It’s Bela Lugosi on line 2!”
I cracked up, given that Jay’s reference to the Hungarian actor who played Count Dracula in the 1931 horror film Dracula seemed so fitting.
Displaying an outsider’s insight into the English language, Ed asked me once, “Why do you say in English ‘I’m pissed off?’ It would be more proper to say ‘I feel pissed on.’” I laughed and had to agree with him.