Sunday, January 3, 2010



Both of my parents are from Chicago, born and raised. However, my mother, unlike my father, managed to escape life without the native Illinois city accent. As children we couldn't help but snicker when listening to our father pronounce certain words. Especially words ending in th. Whenever my father opened his mouth he always managed to give away his origin through a mangled word or two. The word with became wif. Mouth could easily be converted to mouf depending on the parent we spoke to. When my baby sister was about to be born the explanation was that our mother was, "going to give birf" (not birth!) at the hospital. But the ULTIMATE word that would send all four of us reeling in a laughter so powerful that we'd get tears in our eyes, behind his back of course, was the word earf a Midwestern variation on e-a-r-t-h.

The four of us would be planted on our brown plaid sofa, two to a cushion, watching him pace before us asking, "What's the circumference of the planet earf?" Sometimes, we couldn't contain ourselves and we'd steal glances at the sibling beside us, our eyes widening with the laughter our mouths couldn't reveal. Other times we'd secretly nudge one another with our elbows whenever he said earf, laughing mightily on the inside.

That was so long ago. I have a lot of -isms, Keariene-isms, if you will -things that only I would say or come up with. For the past decade, the people that know me up close and personally, friends and family, mostly, have often heard me say, "Now do you want the truth or do you want the truf?" In response to an inquiry they may have made. At first this question usually prompts them to scratch their head and say, "What's the difference?" And I let them know. "The truth is what you tell someone when they want their feelings spared and then the TRUF is the undiluted reality." This usually makes them laugh.

You see, I always speak the truth, but much like my daddy, I speak the truf on occasion too. It is always best to know if someone can handle it beforehand as everything has it's time and place.

Speaking the truf can be freeing. You'd be amazed at how many times someone would prefer to hear the truf over the truth -especially when that dress doesn't make them look bigger than they really are! Just ask them, you might be surprised.