Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Trouble With Words

     I have trouble with words sometimes.  When trying to describe something, words just won't come out.  I flail my hands around in an attempt to spit the word out.  It's not because I don't know what I'm talking about, it's just because the word isn't right there.  I think more conceptually.  I think in shapes and abstract ideas and it takes me a little longer to translate those abstract things into words. 
     One of the best examples is from a few years ago.  There's a decent amount of back story, but I'm going to try to just give the bare bones of it.  A friend of mine had applied for a job and interviewed with my boss.  After the interview I asked my boss about the whole ordeal.  She told me that it had gone well and she passed the application on to The Steaming Kettle.  The Steaming Kettle was a location I wasn't familiar with but from the tone in her voice, I should have been.  When she said the name of it, it conjured an image in my mind.
     Later that day, or the next day, my friend asked me if I knew anything.  Yes!  I do!  "She really likes you and passed your info on to another store.  Uh, the smoking cauldron I think she said."  The exact details of the rest of that conversation are a little hazy, but I know we were in the pool at the time, and I almost drowned from laughing so damn hard.  My friend was pretty sure I was mistaken.
     A day or two after that my friend confirmed she received a phone call- from The Steaming Kettle.  "That's pretty much the same thing." I said.  We never let it go.  We used to refer to it as The Smoking Cauldron all the time.  I tried to explain what happened in my head.  My boss said the words steaming kettle.  I pictured what a steaming kettle might look like.  My image of a steaming kettle was slightly askew.  When asked to recall what my boss said, I conjured up the steaming kettle image and then tried to name it.  I named it a smoking cauldron.  It made sense to me. 
     Sometimes people really think I don't know what I'm saying, or what I'm talking about.  I need to practice being able to get to words faster, especially if I want to go anywhere in improv.  I tend to have a go-to of potatoes, because even though the picture in my head is of an old woman stirring a cabbage-based Irish stew, all that comes out is "POTATOES!"  Great.  My scene partners are a little fed up with potato scenes. 
     Here's another example of the searching-for-the-word phenomenon.  I was in line for tickets to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck.  I got to the front of the line and approach the counter:
How can I help you?
I'd like two tickets for the tour please.
What tour is that?
Nope.  I did not mean tour.  Uh, the top.  The observation deck. 
The Top of the Rock?
Yes please.  
The lovely woman behind the counter thought I was a moron.  To make matters worse, there are actually various tours you can take of Rockefeller Center.  I almost ended up on a three-hour (I don't know how long it is) Art Decco tour of Rockefeller Center. 
     Perhaps I should invest in flash cards.  I'm not going to change my way of thinking, it has come in handy when tackling calculus and rocket scientry.  But I would like to combat that glazed over look in my eyes when asked to describe that thing on pipes that holds them together and kind of looks like a donut.  Yes, a flange.  Exactly. 

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