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Re: Your request for the King Ranch Casserole recipe . . .

In February of this year a special friend died, a lady that I first met back in the mid–1960s after her husband was assigned to my office at Kelley Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. A Great Britain transplant and the mother of five children, her first words to me were—and I kid you not: “So you’re the guy that wants to f-word me.”

Her memorable greeting was prompted by the fact that, although the family’s recently acquired phone number was unlisted, she was receiving frequent obscene phone calls directed specifically to her. Because regulations required that the number be on file at her husband’s duty station and available to all assigned personnel, she believed that someone in his office was making the calls.

She hoped to startle me into an admission of guilt, a plan that she shared with her husband and one to which he had agreed. Believe me, I was really startled, but not enough to cause me to admit to making the calls, especially since I was not the culprit. Had I been guilty I probably would have been startled into a confession. I will reserve a detailed explanation of that situation for a future posting aptly entitled Obscene phone calls. Stay tuned!

Yesterday in a family fit of spring cleaning in the middle of summer, a copy of an e-mail I sent to my friend was rescued from a catch–all box in a closet. The e-mail, dated August 17, 1999 was my response to my friend’s request for my wife’s King Ranch Casserole recipe. That e-mail is reproduced here exactly as transmitted and received. Sadly, it does not include the recipe—a separate and later e-mail served that purpose, and did not survive the passage of time, electronically or otherwise—at least not in my household, but perhaps in hers.

The complete e-mail follows:

Re: Your request for the King Ranch Casserole recipe:

Thank you for your e-mail dated August 16, 1999 subject: Something for Janie to read. We are always pleased to receive praise concerning the gustatory delights of Janie Mae’s culinary combinations, and we also appreciate your request for the King Ranch Casserole recipe. Before we give you a definitive answer to that request, we feel the need to apprise you of the nature of the aforementioned recipe, to wit:

In the entire world there remain only four recipes that have been handed down through generations and remain unknown to the general public. The ingredients of all four recipes are still jealously guarded by the descendants of the originators. Three involve products that are very familiar to everyone—Coca Cola, Colonel Sander’s Kentucky Fried Chicken and Louisiana’s Tabasco Sauce.

The fourth recipe is slightly less well known, but just as jealously guarded by its owner. I refer, of course, to Janie Mae’s King Ranch Casserole. To give you some idea of its importance and its history, I will tell you that the name is derived from a combination of two family names.

The first name, King, refers to one of Janie’s many royal ancestors, namely Edward, Prince of Wales who, as you will remember from your school days, abdicated the throne of England in favor of marrying a widow—which proves that even kings aren’t always first!

The second name, Ranch, was derived from my own ancestral lineage. Ranch was originally spelled Raunchy, but the name was corrupted by several generations of goodie-goodies besmirching our family reputation by insisting on being—well, they insisted on being goodie-goodies! They felt that the name Raunchy evoked visions of emotions and activities they felt were unbecoming to the family name, and for that reason the U and the Y were deleted—the second word of the recipe thus changed from King Raunchy to King Ranch.

The third name, Casserole, is also derived directly from my ancestral lineage and was also spelled differently in the beginning. In the modern version, as you know it, letters have been both added and deleted. To recreate the original word, delete the C, the first E and change the R to an H and the word becomes Asshole. The name of the recipe was thus corrupted—it was changed from King Raunchy Asshole to King Ranch Casserole.

I have striven mightily to restore the proper spelling and title to the recipe, but with very limited success, and I’m at a loss to understand why so many insist on the new spelling rather than retaining the original words—after all, as Shakespeare would say, that which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet. One can readily see why that phrase would apply to the name of a recipe, especially for a recipe such as this one.

Having briefed you on the history of the recipe I will now apprise la cocinera Juanita—Janie, the cook— of your request. You may be assured that she will give the proper orders and provide the supervision necessary for me to be able to convey the recipe to you in the manner in which you requested it be conveyed. Please note that I have adopted the historical name of the recipe, the original name minus the King part, as my official signature.

Yr. Obedient and Loyal Servant,

Raunchy Asshole

Postcript: Being the highly principled blogger that I am, I was somewhat wary of using the a-word. However, I used the Search Word Press.com Blogs feature and got 98, 936 hits—with that in mind,  I am far less wary of using it.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!




 
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Posted by on July 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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To lay, or to lie—that is the question . . .

And this is the answer: Hens lay—people lie.

The misuse of lay and lie is one of my pet peeves, perhaps the pettiest and peeviest of all.

We hear the verbs misused in every venue—we see it printed in our daily newspapers and other periodicals, and we hear it on radio, on television and in everyday conversations. Medics arriving at an accident scene will invariably tell the injured to lay down, lay still. The medic may report to his home station that he found the injured person laying in a ditch beside the road—and the operator may ask him to repeat the victim’s location by saying, “Repeat, please—where is the victim laying?” As much as I detest repeating myself, I will now repeat myself:

Hens lay—people lie.

Remember when we learned to conjugate verbs? We memorized word groups containing the present, past and future tenses of verbs. The verb to lie, as in lie down, is conjugated as lie, lay, lain—I lie down today, I lay down yesterday, and  by this time tomorrow I will have lain down again. This conjugation is used to reflect the position of something in repose, whether alive or dead, whether animate or inanimate, whether animal, vegetable or mineral and whether prostrate or supine.

A quick explanation here on prostrate versus supine may be in order, just in the highly unlikely possibility that one or more viewers may be confused by the difference between prostrate and supine. Prostrate means lying on one’s stomach (face down), and supine means lying on one’s back (face up).

Special note: Some people sometimes tend to confuse the term prostrate with prostate. The first refers to position—the second is “a gland found at the neck of the bladder in male mammals.” I remember a sentence in a novel that read, “He lay prostate on the altar of Mammon.” The name Mammon, of course, refers to wealth, something regarded as evil, an object of worship and devotion. Medieval writers took Mammon as the name of the devil of covetousness. I suspect that the misspelling of prostrate was a typo, an error made way back in the days before spellcheckers came into use. There is a truth to be learned here—spellcheckers are not infallible.

The verb to lie also refers to truthfulness (or the lack thereof), and is conjugated as follows: lie, lied, lied—I lie today (or I am lying, the gerund form of lie), I lied yesterday, and by this time tomorrow I will have lied again.

The verb to lay also has two very different meanings, as does the verb to lie. It can refer to the hen’s ability to lay an egg (lay, laid, laid), or it may be used to place or put something, also conjugated as lay, laid and laid. Rather that saying “Put (or place) it on the table,” we can say “Lay it on the table.” We can then legitimately say that we laid it on the table, and that by this time tomorrow we will have laid another on the table.

I suppose that a hen could lie down, but in my experience they only sit—or stand, of course. I have never seen a hen lie. However, I have heard hens lie. When I was a child, in a time shrouded in the mists of the past, a cackling hen usually meant that an egg had just been laid. That sound would send me running to the hen house for a quick visual scan of the nests to locate and purloin the egg, still warm after its journey from darkness to the bright light of day, then a quick run to the general store one-quarter mile distant to initiate and complete a business transaction. A dozen eggs in those days cost 60 cents, so I would exchange the egg for a nickel’s worth of something sweet, the buyer’s choice of items ranging from candy to cookies to a Coke. Yes, at that time the green Mae West-shaped bottle of Coca-Cola cost just five cents.

As regards that hen cackling, the cackling did not always indicate that an egg had been laid and was available. There were other situations in which hens cackled. They often cackled when the rooster was in hot pursuit, a cackle engendered by panic or perhaps by anticipation or some alternate feeling. Hens also sometimes cackled shortly after being overtaken by the rooster—whether the cackling indicated pleasure or disappointment is known only by the hen—and the rooster, perhaps. I use the word perhaps because the hen, in any discussion that may have ensued between her and the rooster following their encounter, may have told him things that were somewhat less than truthful, little white lies told so the the rooster would hear that which she knew he wanted, and needed, to hear. Let’s face it, my brothers—it’s well known that some actions of some animals sometimes mirror the actions of humans, both in the psychological sense and the physical sense—they just speak a different language.

A quick application of basic arithmetic to the sale of eggs at sixty cents per dozen:

Armed with the knowledge that twelve of something—anything—equals one dozen, then dividing the cost of a dozen eggs (sixty cents) by the number of eggs in a dozen (twelve) would show that one egg had a value of  five cents, and one might wonder how the store’s proprietor could make a profit. In this instance he was satisfied to break even—he was my uncle, the husband of my mother’s sister, a deeply religious and benevolent man cut down in the prime of his life. He was killed by the actions of a 12-year-old boy, a first-cousin to me and the younger of his two sons.

My cousin’s actions were not deliberate—his father’s death was an accident, avoidable perhaps, but still an unfortunate accident. Unless it sprouts wings and flies (or flees) from my memories and refuses to return, the story of my uncle’s death will be the subject of a future posting.

Stay tuned.


 

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