Cuff Links

Cuff link: (n) a pair of linked ornamental buttons or buttonlike devices for fastening a shirt cuff.

We called her Sister Betty.

She wasn’t really our sister. It was kind of a quasi-religious reference with just a hint of hippie philosophy.

Sister Betty loved to find deals at thrift stores. She especially became interested in finding me clothes, since my girth made it difficult to buy anything other than men’s work pants and shirts. The grays, browns and indescribable greens of those clothes were not suitable for a teenage boy.

So one day Sister Betty came in with a dress shirt which actually fit me.

It had French cuffs.

I did not know what French cuffs were, but Betty immediately explained that they were folded over, and a fastener held them together—which was often very ornate and contained a jewel.

I was game. After all, I had a new shirt.

For some reason, Sister Betty, who was usually very lucky in the market, was unable to find me discounted cuff links. I think she probably should have pursued a little further, but when her first trip to the bargain plaza did not garner the desired results, she decided to try to make me a pair of cuff links for the new French shirt.

She came up with many ideas.

Simple pieces of leather to hold the French cuff together.

She thought about painting a paper clip.

When she finally got down to ribbon and yarn, I realized it was time for me to intercede. I was already a little intimidated about wearing a French shirt in my All-American small town, but having it garnished by ribbon, yarn or bows was completely implausible.

Finally, one of my friends suggested that maybe Sister Betty could take two marbles—those Purees—and fasten something on them, to use them for the cuff links.

She glued and messed, frowned and struggled for a whole day.

Then she appeared with two cuff links made out of marbles.

I slipped them on the shirt, fastened the cuff links and then crinkled my brow.

One marble was red and the other was blue.

Sister Betty saw my dissatisfied face and said, “Oh! Did you want the marbles to be the same color?”

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

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