Mixed Messages

The other day, my mother was walking back to my apartment from the grocery store, when she passed a man on the street, a vaguely homeless man, who sort of leered at her and called out "have you been a doughboy all your life?"

My mother was aghast. A doughboy! She wasn't a doughboy! Was she? Should she really have been wearing those pants she wasn't quite sure about? Perhaps they had been an unflattering mistake, after all! Was the sweater tied around her waist making her butt look big? Or had the last two food-and-drink-fueled weeks in the States caught up with her too quickly, adding on a few pounds she hadn't even realized she'd gained? A doughboy! Could it be?

She mulled this over as she walked home, quite hurt and resentful to have been publicly criticized on the streets of San Francisco, surreptitiously checking out her silhouette in every reflection to check for extra paunches and pouches. And what sort of insult was "doughboy," anyway? Sure, he was an idiot, she told herself, but he was a creative one all the same.

As she was putting her key in the lock, running the sentence over in her mind again and again---"have you been a doughboy all your life? have you been a doughboy all your life? have you been a doughboy all your life?" Really, the nerve of the man!---the syllables suddenly separated themselves into something far more cohesive and comprehensive, and she realized what he'd actually been trying to say. He hadn't been comparing her to the tubby Pillsbury mascot after all, he'd merely been trying to pay her a (slightly sleazy and misguided) compliment.

Let this be a lesson to you, vaguely homeless men of America, that you need to annunciate more when attempting pick-ups on the street. "Have you been adorable all your life?" is easily misunderstood.

1
silverblue
May 17, 2007

All I can say is ha ha ha! Hilarious!

2
aholtscl
May 17, 2007

That reminds me of something that happened to me when I was in San Fran in April. My partner and I were taking the bus from our hotel to Golden Gate Park to go for a run and a mildly homeless looking man stopped in front of me in anticipation of exiting at the next stop. He half-smiled and turned to me and said, "I'm 56 years old... and if you make it to my age, you're going to be... wrinkled and dried up!" He rambled on after that, but I didn't hear any of it. My mind raced with thoughts like "I'm in the peak of whiteness. Why is he saying that?" "I'm half Asian! Won't I only get half wrinkled!?!?!" "I must look rougher than I thought! I knew I should have showered!" The conclusion that I came to was that he was crazy.

3
Sara
May 17, 2007

BWAHAHAHA!

4
smoness
May 17, 2007

Well... the doughboy IS kind-of adorable... so either way you think of it, couldn't it be a compliment?

5
Janet
May 17, 2007

Very cute story!

6
Daily Tragedies
May 17, 2007

Oh, your poor mom! She IS adorable, though. You can tell her a stranger from the Internet says so. That's better than a random homeless person, right? Right?

7
camille
May 17, 2007

hysterical!

8
Diane
May 17, 2007

THAT.WAS.AWESOME!

9
OMSH
May 17, 2007

I think I could have rolled that over my tongue 100 kajillion times and never come out with that last sentence. Thank you for sparing me endless agony.

And?

Hysterical!

10
barbie2be
May 17, 2007

*snort*

11
tamara
May 17, 2007

Holly~ Please don;t take this the wrong way, but I think what you meant to say was:

e·nun·ci·ate

1. To pronounce; articulate

Annunciate means to tell or proclaim.

Hope you don't think I'm being an ass about it...I can never use immigrate and emigrate or who and whom in the right places!

12
JB
May 17, 2007

Heh. I love this!

13
Chiada
May 17, 2007

I kept thinking "doughboy? I don't get it. Your mom is faaar from being a doughboy." Then I read the last paragraph and it all came together. That makes much more sense. Your mom is adorable.

I'm always listening to music and there are many times when I misunderstand what the singer is singing. One time, I told my Hub-E about how I couldn't figure out what Jimmy Buffett meant when he sang "I'm a woman, don't let go!" in a song that had to do with dolphins. Hub-E cracked up laughing and said, "no, no, he said 'climb aboard and don't let go!'"

I'm a dork.

14
Nothing But Bonfires
May 17, 2007

Tamara, you know, I KNEW I was spelling it wrong, but it was 11:30pm, and my brain couldn't figure out why it looked weird, and I couldn't be arsed to look it up. And now I can't be arsed to change it. Please know that this is maybe, like, my fifth spelling mistake in my entire life.

(Please nobody check the archives to confirm that.)

15
Melissa
May 17, 2007

I mis-hear things all the time. On Monday, someone was trying to tell me that a friend was expecting a baby in August. We were in a crowd and I couldn' imagin what that friend had to do with a hippopotamus.

16
Maya
May 17, 2007

Love it. My favorite mis-hearing story is thus:

Approx. c. 1984, so I was...4, my mom told me not to "use that tone of voice on ME, young lady", whereopon I dissapeared into the bathroom in floods of angry tears....sobbing brokenheartedly,

"DON'T CALL ME TONAH! I'M NOT A TONAH!" because I thought she was calling me a bad name.

17
Lori
May 17, 2007

Kinda different but...

When I was 19, I traveled through Europe for the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years of college. I arrived at our hotel in Paris one evening to a loosely translated message from my mother via the concierge: "Congratulations on getting a new house." What?! I thought. My mom hadn't mentioned putting the house up for sale or looking for a new one. The message puzzled me for days, but this was before international cell phones and all that, and I just figured I would find out the news upon my return. Days later, on the bus driving through Switzerland, it hit me. The message should have been, "Congratulations on getting into Newhouse." As in, the communications school at my university, to which I had applied for acceptance.

That made so much more sense.

18
Em
May 17, 2007

Yea for you having your Mum in town. Must be nice.

And very well written by the way, but of course you already knew that! :)

19
Gretchen
May 18, 2007

Actually, my first thought was that he was calling her a doughboy in the sense of one of those soldiers down in the trenches. World War I, wasn't it? And I further thought "Why, was she dressed as a soldier?"

I told you I was a poindexter.

20
Caity
May 18, 2007

That is absolutely precious. I hope that when I'm older I'll still be getting compliments from men, even if they are homeless men.

21
Melanie
May 18, 2007

Your poor mother! Though it's nice that she's still got it going on and the homeless are allll about her.

22
elise
May 18, 2007

I never would have figured out what "doughboy" meant had you not typed it out for me. I'm glad your adorable and, apparently, phonetically gifted mother knew what he meant. Eventually :)

23
Wacky Mommy
May 19, 2007

She is just as cute as you are! My mom once thought a guy was yelling "Hadle hadle hadle" after her. She came home thinking, "Ladle?" Then realized he was shouting "Hey, doll!" Or there was the time she was hugely insulted because someone "told me I looked old enough to be his mother!" I was like -- Mom, for real? She says "He yelled 'Mama'! at me!"

Oh, the nerve.

24
B!
May 19, 2007

Lori--JB and I went to Syracuse too, and JB was in Newhouse! (I was up the hill in VPA.) Small world...

Holly, this story was the perfect pick-me-up for a cold, rainy Saturday morning. Thanks!

25
Will
May 20, 2007

How the homeless are going to get that last message is beyond me, but I guess if they have a laptop and a wireless connection then they're set.

At any rate, hilarious story.

26
Maya
May 20, 2007

Would like to say that I also thought immediately of WWI soldiers, so Gretchen, you are not alone in your Poindexterism. My first thought was, "she wasn't wearing boots, was she?"

Any rate, I'm sure that she IS entirely adorable, and always has been.