Thursday, March 24, 2022

Sandbagging word nerd - 3.24 #sol22 Story Challenge

I went for a haircut today, in a spot I'd never been before. The barber, who had little hair of his own, other than of the facial variety, asked what I do for work. A solid making-chitchat-with-strangers question, if ever there was one. I answered that I teach middle-school students English.

"Probably my worst subject," he said, scissors snicking with extra force in my judgment.

"Well, you're communicating great," I offered, "in my professional opinion." (For the record, I attempted adding air-quotes to that last phrase solely through my tone of voice as my hands were swaddled under a barbershop apron.)

"I've got a huge vocabulary," he said, "but I prefer the red-neck vernacular."

I savored his word choice. "Sounds to me like a winning combination."


  1. Hahaha! I know a guy with red-neck vernacular. He also has a huge vocabulary and very little hair. I learn new words from him all the time--but I sometimes don't know what they mean. You are brave to get your hair cut in a place you've never been before.

  2. "snickering with extra force" I am pretty sure I heard the scissors! I hope you share this slice with your students.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks for asking! "Red neck" is American slang describing people (usually from rural backgrounds, often associated with the southern US) who spend abundant time outside. Thus, they often get sunburns on the backs of their necks. It's a stereotype that, depending on context, can land humorously, proudly, or hurtfully. Here, I infer the barber was using it to call himself plainspoken in a self-deprecating way. (Vernacular is a fancy way of saying "everyday speaking," which adds an edge of irony to the phrase 'red neck vernacular.')

  4. Such a cute slice! I love the line about your hands being under the apron as you were trying to make the air quotes!

  5. I have to say I love the "hands were swaddled under a barbershop apron" phrase too. Perfect slice. I was recently at the gynecologist and as he's doing the uncomfortable procedure, he says "So tell me about the writing process." Really?!

  6. His word choice is colored by his view.