Crooked

Crooked: (adj) dishonest, not straightforward

 

There are certain things you remember:

The first time you rode a rollercoaster.

Your initial encounter with peanut butter.

How about the premiere kiss?

An award given in front of an applauding audience.

An orgasm.

An amount of money that crosses your hands that’s more than y you can imagine.

But I also clearly remember the first time somebody called me “crooked.”

I was so pissed. I didn’t consider myself crooked. I thought I was being thrifty. I viewed my efforts as ingenious.

For you see, I checked into a motel room with three other friends. We could only afford the single rate, so I purchased it for me alone. Then the other three arrived, scurrying around the back of the establishment to my front door, laughing that we had pulled off our little decoy.

Matter of fact, I think we were still giggling, high-fiving each other, when there was a knock at the door. I quickly silenced everyone in the room and motioned for them to go into the bathroom. I would handle whatever the intrusion happened to be.

When I opened the door, there was the front desk clerk. He demanded entrance. I acted offended. “What do you want?” I asked.

In broken English, he clearly exclaimed, “You bring more people in room! You lie! You cheat!”

Not sure what else to do, I invited him in, thinking he would walk around the beds, and see nobody else in the space—never believing he would actually open up the bathroom. So when he headed in that direction, I had to decide whether to deter him or just let it play out.

He was too fast for me. He was already opening the door. The bathroom was empty. But he was a persistent young man. He quickly pulled back the shower curtain. There were my three friends, standing in the tub, trying desperately to imitate invisibility. Finally one of my buddies burst out laughing—frightened nerves.

The young desk clerk exclaimed, “You must leave room now!”

I reached for my wallet to offer him the extra funds that would cover the four of us, but he would have none of it.

“No money,” he said, pushing my wallet away. “You lie. You cheat. You go.”

He headed toward the door, and I spoke, hoping to rationalize my actions. “Listen, man,” I said, “we were just trying to save money. We’re just kids. We’re broke. You know?”

He turned, looked me right in the eyes and said:

“You not kids. You not broke. You crooked.”

He immediately stepped out of the room and disappeared, coming back five minutes later to stand next to our van, to make sure we loaded up and left.

As is often the case with a quartet of individuals, there were four different takes on the event: one scared, one acting like he wasn’t part of it from the start, one indignant—wanting to go buy a dozen eggs and pelt the place.

And then there was me.

I was quiet, chilled to my soul.

I was bruised by being called “crooked.”

I didn’t view myself as deceitful, just clever.

But I learned that night that clever is crooked if it’s not honest.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


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Croissant

Croissant: (n) a rich, buttery, crescent-shaped roll of leavened dough or puff paste.

For the sake of our little essay I shall refer to him as Martin.

This is not his real name, but perhaps if the actual individual reads this, he can come to the conclusion that he’s Martin. Then I can tell a story without people making fun of him personally.

Boy, was that a useless preamble.

So let’s pretend like I’m starting again.

***

Martin was the kind of guy who loved to come up with new things to try and insisted it was the cutting-edge practice from “the coast.” I was never sure whether he meant the East Coast, the West Coast or some other coast I might not be familiar with.

Many years ago, Martin arrived at a brunch we had put together.

(We did not call it brunch at that time because the word was not yet invented. We called it “late breakfast.”)

Martin arrived with a box—the kind you get at a bakery and usually has a cake in it. While we were laying out our eggs, bacon, biscuits, gravy, cereal boxes and a little fruit here and there, Martin exploded into the room and dropped his box on the table, pushing back a jar of homemade marmalade.

He turned to the gathered souls and said:

“Save your appetite! I have got the thing to eat today.”

Well, we were all a little suspicious. Martin was known for providing oddities and insisting they were delicacies. If you don’t know the difference, an oddity only becomes a delicacy if it tastes real good.

For instance:

He was the first to bring jalapeno peppers—with no warning on how to survive them after consumption.

He brought calamari and waited until we had chewed on it for a while before revealing it was squid.

Of course, there was the time that he offered our first box of Muesli Cereal from “over there in the Scandinavian lands,” which we all tried.

We all resembled cows chewing their cud.

But on this day, his offering was a croissant, which he pronounced with as much of a phony French accent as he could muster. He told us that croissants were better than biscuits, superior to rolls, left toast in the dust and of course, forced cornbread back to the farm.

He brought enough for everyone, so we all indulged in our first croissants—which were scrumptious. (Well, some folks took a couple bites and reverted to their primordial biscuits.)

But they were flakey.

Not that different from Martin.

(And now I jest.)

Also, they were just chewy enough that they did a fairly decent impersonation of bagels (Martin’s contribution three months earlier).

I cannot lie:

We all felt a little continental eating our croissants, imagining the French people who may have made them.

Since that day, if offered toast, biscuit, bagel or croissant, I will tell you—bagel and croissant do top my list.

So even though I may have found Martin to be pretentious, overbearing, a bit self-righteous and a social bully, he did introduce me to things I might not have found as quickly on my own but have become intricate parts of my life.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

 


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