"I'm not allowed to say the "F" word" announced my six-year-old goddaughter one morning recently to her teacher - a statement probably not the most inconsequential to be greeted with at the beginning of a school day, and undoubtedly one that spawned all the normal signs of panic - palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, if not a distinct impulse to head for the door.
Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, indeed, comes much to amuse and divert and yesterday was no exception. Over dinner the Celt's beloved sister-in-law, in town for a couple of days, told the story that caused me almost to lose it. I was luckily not chewing or drinking at the time so I didn't choke from food only from sheer hide-my-face-in-my-napkin, unstoppable laughter - something I needed for I was very grumpy about the level of noise - a jazz band and singer, no less - in my favorite, if low-ceilinged, restaurant. Boy, did I need to laugh.
Whether or not the teacher immediately twigged what was going on, I cannot remember, but at some point, if only in a conversation with mama at the end of the school day, she must have done - my god-daughter and her father were taking a trip to France and were not yet telling her four-year-old sister. Her father, a lover of puns, told her not to mention France and phrased it "Don't use the "F" word."
The delight of it kept coming back throughout the meal and each time reduced me to giggles - so much so, the Celt told me to "shut the France up!" which set me off into giggles again. Absolute delight!
Two outstanding studies of Shelley
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