Wherein John D. MacDonald Makes Light Of One Of Brian J.’s Quirks

In The Beach Girls, as the protagonist (if there is one) is falling in love with the love interest (of which there is, whether the fellow is the protagonist or not), they exchange a quirk:

You know, Leo, when I first started reading everything, I was big enough to pick up, that phrase, batting her eyelashes, worried me half to death. I used to wonder if genuine sirens carried a little stick they used. And I learned some mighty big words. Chaos was one I learned. Only in my mind I pronounced it chowse. So one day I showed off in history class. ‘Europe is in a state of chowse,’ I said. ‘Chowse?’ the teacher said. “Complete chowse,’ I said firmly. So she made me spell it. Then she practically had to be helped from the room. It was might humiliating, I can tell you true.”

I remember putting to my mother into a state of semi-hysterics with the word bedraggled. I told her one morning at breakfast she looked a little bedraggled. Only I pronounced it bed-raggled.”

I pronounced it “chay-ose,” for sure. And to be honest, I probably still say bed-raggled.

I’ve learned so much of my vocabulary from reading that I have an accent all my own. I know rabid comes from rabies, so why isn’t it “ray-bid”? It is in my world. The same for vapid which comes from vapor. And I am sure I have been forgiven for saying sub-see-quently to my in-laws (because it has the same root as sequence. And don’t get me started on the morning food called the bag-el (or perhaps that is what Superman was packed in when he was shipped to Earth).

I can get away with it in a lot of cases because I use a lot of words that many people don’t know (or at least they don’t know them like I say them). However, my mother-in-law is a former English teacher, so she and her beautiful daughter correct me gently as though English is my second language. Hah! It can’t be. I don’t even have a first language yet.

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