I was socializing with friends the other evening, drinking coffee and eating apple crisp. During the course of conversation, a friend mentioned that she had received pictures of her nephew. In fact, these pictures were of the “you can hold them in your hands” variety, rather than of the “you can see them on your computer” variety. Pictures from home are a big deal when you live in North Africa.
My friend mentioned that one of the pictures depicted her nephew, holding a beater. Her nephew is two or three years old. Imagine, then, my surprise when the word I heard was not beater, but beer.
Folks at home, try saying beater five times fast. Can you sympathize with my confusion?
Another friend of mine also heard beer and commented something to the effect of, “Wow, I guess you start them off early.”
This comment apparently did not register with the recipient of the pictures, because one of the next things out of her mouth was something to the effect of, “It reminds me of when I used to make brownies as a kid.”
I was somewhat amused and intrigued by this, so I asked something to the effect of, “Does your family have a tradition of making beer-battered brownies?”
The look on my friend’s face expressed something to the effect of, “How does your brain manage to produce such random comments?”
Then the room became chillingly silent. While I was unable to pinpoint what I had done wrong, I had the unmistakable impression that it was very, very bad. At that moment, I wanted to be whisked away to a place where no one was staring at me and the crickets were not so audible.
After spending a few minutes reconstructing the conversation, we sorted out the miscommunication.
The moral of the story: The word whisk communicates a similar concept to the word beater, and it is less likely to lead to misunderstandings about toddlers’ use of alcoholic beverages.