Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Joe and the oranges

Grandpa Joe swore quite a bit. Most of it was rather tame compared to what we hear these days, however, and it consisted mostly of 'Aw Hell' which by his inflection could express anything from mild distaste to complete disgust. If he really thought you were full of it, he said, "Ain't that a crock of stuff." Yes, stuff, he said, not even using the obvious expletive in the plainly obvious context. In great distress he was bellow, "No, no, no, Hell, no", with a profound and almost indescribable emphasis on Hell, drawing the word out as though he had to force it from his lungs. But those stories are for another time.

Joe was rough and difficult to deal with, yet he had a soft side. Once when out and about with someone, I don't recall who he was just this minute so I'll call him Cloyce just to give him a name, Joe asked Cloyce if he wanted a soda pop. Told yes, they found a store, parked, and went headed towards the door. Cloyce remembered a street urchin, a sad and frail little boy sitting over to the side with his knees tucked into his body, trying to stave off the chill in the air.

They went into the store. Cloyce went to the refrigerated aisle and grabbed a bottle of pop. Realizing next that Joe was not with him, he found him trolling a stack of bagged oranges. You know how they would bag oranges in those mesh bags, right? Orange mesh bags, I suppose to blend with the oranges. Joe took one, then got a drink for himself, and they went to the checkout and paid. So he wants oranges, Cloyce thought.

When they were outside, Joe went over to the urchin and tossed him the oranges. Cloyce said the boy looked up at Joe in surprise and joy and said, "Mister, when you dies, I hope you goes straight to Heaven." Joe replied ironically, but in a quiet voice, "Aw Hell". It was perhaps the only time and manner in which such words could sound humble.

So Aw Hell can mean a lot of things. You just have to have the right emphasis. Joe was a master of that.

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