when i was a little kid–i think i may have been in second grade–i did my homework over the weekend and then promptly lost it. i noticed this sunday night, the most dreaded night of school-aged children, and proceeded to have a mini meltdown.
“i don’t want to tell my teacher i lost my homework!” i told my parents, completely panic-stricken that i was going to get in what us kids called “big trouble.”
“tell your teacher you misplaced it,” they told me calmly.
misplaced, i thought. wow. that sounded so much better. yes, that would work, i decided. i would tell the teacher–actually, i think it was a student teacher–that i misplaced my homework. it was much more mature and refined. i once knew where it was, but now i didn’t. which meant that i misplaced it and did not lose it like the irresponsible second grader that i was.
i took a deep breath, dislodged my wedgie, and told the student teacher that i had “misplaced” my homework over the weekend. i swear to this day i think i saw her try to hold back a smile. thinking back on it, i’m surprised she didn’t let out a laugh, too. what second grader comes into elementary school saying she misplaced her homework?? me, obviously. but it worked and i felt better. she gave me another worksheet, and i redid it. case closed.
i’m telling you this story b/c i crack up when people change language to make things seem…not so bad. take “field mouse,” for example. now that we’ve dealt w/our fair share of mice, it always cracks me up when people see/find/catch a mouse in their house and tell people that it is/was just a little field mouse.
i used to go for the whole field mouse thing before i moved to a rowhouse that shares walls w/who knows what. but as a tried-and-true resident of southeast baltimore, i’m not falling for it anymore.
i hate to break it to you, but a mouse is a mouse, folks. just like a roach is a roach and not a “water bug.” the mice we occasional caught in picturesque suburban new jersey look exactly the same as the mice we catch here in downtown baltimore (well, except for the gang tattoos…).
if saying field mouse makes you feel better b/c it makes you feel like it came from a farm or is actually a talking cartoon mouse or just, you know, accidentally wound up in your house b/c it got sidetracked from the field it was crossing, so be it. but i say a mouse is a mouse is a mouse (even if it’s in an orange; see above). ugh, i can’t believe i ever had rodents (hamsters) as pets. of course i used to have lizards (ok, just chameleons), too. i also used to pick up worms. a lot has changed with me since the early/mid 80s.
as for the word “misplaced,” i don’t think i’ve used it since second grade. (if i ever go to england, maybe i’ll use it there. seems like a place where they’d use that word.) and i really don’t get many wedgies anymore either. in case you were wondering. which you probably weren’t. just saying.