Bulletin Board, excerpt

This 'n' that 'n' the other

Excerpt from (St. Paul Pioneer Press) Bulletin Board, July 30, 2003

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Poet X of PDX: "Portland has a sizable Russian immigrant population, and a couple families in the new neighborhood, I've learned, are such immigrant families, including the residents immediately across the street.

"I couldn't help but think what a global society we live in when, about sunset one evening last week, the sound of a guitar was heard coming from their front porch. A man of about 30, born in Russia a decade after the song was written in Liverpool, strummed 'Norwegian Wood' and lowly sang a decent imitation of the version most of us are familiar with.

"The house beside theirs is occupied by members of another sizable ethnic community in Portland whose history here goes back at least to the 1970s: Mexican immigrants, both legal and illegal. In their garage, they keep a large, yellow-headed parrot in an inadequately small cage. When the garage door is open, the intelligent creature proves as much and yells in a child's voice. 'Shut up!' is one of the only phrases I could make out for a while. I had to wonder if the bird had been kidnapped! Awhile later, I heard it roll its r's, putting my theory in doubt. An acquaintance walked by the garage the other day. He heard Spanish phrases and talked to someone there who verified that the bird speaks English and Spanish phrases. I still don't think I'd qualify the bird as multilingual, even if it knew phrases in 50 languages.

"Can you imagine a parrot that speaks Bantu and Welsh and Urdu along with a bit of Latin?

"P.S. I'm still laughing about the woman at the gas station. I'm laughing louder than most, maybe, because I once drove up to a gas station in a rental car. It was a self-serve pump, so I got out of the car, looked and looked, and couldn't find the gas tank after about three walks around the vehicle so I got in and drove away. Some 10 blocks later, I found a secluded enough place to do my search privately, found the tank (and the lever in the car that released it) and then found a new gas station at which to fill up nonchalantly and like an old pro. Since then, I'm apt to ask at the rental desk where the gas tank on the car I'm about to drive off in is.

" 'Off in is.' There's a nice word pileup."

CAUTION! WORDS AT PLAY! Or: What's in a name? (Mixed Breeds Division)

Says St. Paul Barb, apparently unashamedly: "If you crossed a cantaloupe with Lassie, you'd get a melon/collie baby."

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