Monday, February 20, 2012

Labarat* (for Laborat*)

The first dog I ever remember owning was called Mitzi, a gentle black Labrador-collie cross with long black silky-soft hair. I was even told that I had somehow named her myself, in a confused child's voice, perhaps intending to say something else, I'm really not sure. But whenever I hear Mitzi Gaynor (though her tresses were curly and blonde) singing "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair" from South Pacific, I find myself thinking about our old dog Mitzi with the wavy black hair. (Fun fact: Mitzi Gaynor was born Francesca Marlene de Czanyi von Gerber.) Mitzi (the dog) also indirectly taught me my first lesson in dirty words, censorship, and social niceties, and how, in a nutshell, context is everything. One time, at a tender age and family gathering, I was amusing myself by matching up the guests and and then switching the first letters of their names. Romeo and Juliet, Jomeo and Ruliet. That kind of thing. When I had gotten through all the people present and was down to the dogs, Mitzi and Sherry (the latter being a blameless little Pekingese belonging to my grandparents), a concerned female relative hastily drew me aside. Let's just say I stepped right into that one! Mitzi was a lovely pooch and I'm sorry to have sullied her sainted name. A name that still sounds to me sort of half German, half gibberish, half Gaynor. By the way, speaking of great canines, I just passed along my old dog-eared [!] college copy of Sirius by Olaf Stapledon (subtitled "a fantasy of love and discord") to a very worthy young reader I know. I am now eagerly awaiting his review of this 1944 British sci fi novel about the relationship between a girl named Plaxy and her beloved dog Sirius, a highly complex creature who had been conceived in a laboratory. So here's to Labs, labs, labels, labors, and pretty much all things labial and labile. There were ten cases of today's typo in OhioLINK this morning, and 229 in WorldCat.

(Olaf Stapledon, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

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