Just Wo-ahn Out

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Sometime back in the 1930s, my grandmother picked up the telephone receiver just in time to hear the Methodist minister’s wife, on the party line, drawl, “I am just wo-ahn out. I’ve been waterin’ the yahd.”

The statement might not seem significant, but my family has its own criteria for significance. And so those two sentences entered the vernacular.

They were used under a variety of circumstances: after stretching barbed wire, frying chicken, mowing the lawn.

My father would fold the newspaper, set it on the table, and announce, “I am just wo-ahn out. I’ve been waterin’ the yahd.”

I am wo-ahn out, too. I’ve been taking the Jeopardy online test.

Fifty questions, fifteen seconds to type each answer. Spelling didn’t count but was appreciated. Short answers were accepted, not in the form of a question.

I didn’t do too badly, I think. Better than last year. Last year was a mess.

I won’t include specifics, but I did okay on questions related to literature, biology, and chemistry.

But I won’t be called in for an interview. My natural distaste for geography and abject ignorance of popular culture took care of that.

Katie Who?

And there was the What’s-His-Name problem. I can see his face but–

Time is up. Proceed to the next question.

Students used to say, Why do we have to study literature? Why do we have to read Shakespeare? Beowulf? Canterbury Tales? All this stuff?

I would say, So you will know the pleasure of beautiful words and elevated thoughts. So you will understand literary allusions. So you will be culturally literate. So you will be educated.

So when you see an ad for fat-free cheese with a caption reading, A lean, not hungry, look, you will recognize the copywriter has read Julius Caesar.

Finally–finally–I came up with the right answer: You study literature so when Alex Trebec says, “The blank ‘for all his feathers, was a-cold’ you will buzz in and put the answer in the form of a question and walk away with a pile of money.

That got their attention.

I don’t know that it’s actually happened for any of them. But I fully expect to turn on the television someday and see one of my students clicking away.

It hasn’t worked for  me. But that’s all right. It is the student’s job to surpass the teacher. I shall have a vicarious victory.

Now it’s almost midnight. I must post and then retire.

Because I am just wo-ahn out. I’ve been waterin’ the yahd.

6 thoughts on “Just Wo-ahn Out

  1. Kathy, great post! So that’s why we had to study literature…Just kidding. I do remember watching a commercial for cheese many years ago and they were singing: Cheese, glorious cheese!” I thought, wow that’s a take off on Oliver and felt proud of myself for knowing it!


    1. I thought that was as good a reason as any. Some days I wasn’t sure myself. But isn’t it fun to make all these little connections?

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It’s so good to hear from people I “used to” know. (Tell your mom Hi for me, okay?)


    1. I’m glad you laughed. Someone in my house always laughed when that line was produced. My parents had an entire list of them. They weren’t funny, except they were. One of my aunts said, “Oh, joy!” in a tone that said anything but.


  2. Brilliant 🙂 I am terrible at these quizzy things. Never know the answers, that’s Phil’s job. I am the problem solver of the family, I tell them all, and my speciality is not knowledge, but wisdom.

    It’s complete claptrap; but the kids buy every word.


    1. Wisdom, even the claptrap kind, is good. Trivia is a head stuffed with stuff, and I’ve gotten to the point at which it starts leaking out.


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