The Chez Stands Alone

He was the incredibly handsome (or so my revisionist history would have me believe)¬†older brother of my college dorm-mate. We met at a party and went on a couple of casual dates before the incident that would forever mar him, flipping him from the “possibility” to the “unthinkable” pile.

A basement coffeehouse, less than a mile from my first university, was being discovered by my fellow students in the pre-hipster era. A cult classic for my crowd (the writers) the spot was favorite for (bad) poetry readings and offered overstuffed couches, board games and shelves of books long before Starbucks locations sprang forth from Seattle into the mainstream. My freshman fiction writing teacher introduced our class to the joint and we, the pre-emo, indie/cultish writer-types considered it “ours.”

I have, as you may have guessed, a long history of love affairs with words and their writers.

The Chez (which, to my shock, still apparently exists, 21+ years later) was the first coffeehouse I ever frequented, before I was a coffee drinker; before laptops; before the Internet; before, in short, everything I take for granted today.

The cute boy who captured my attention was not a writer. He was a jock. So when he suggested one evening we go to a new place he’d heard of called “The Cheese” I was momentarily confused. And then I understood . . . my beloved haven was not only being mispronounced but maligned by someone who couldn’t possibly understand its charm. I mean, this was not a place one could get plastered on cheap beer drunk from a plastic red cup.

It’s one memory I have of misused language significantly affecting my impression of someone. Shallow? Maybe on the surface, but it was all that misunderstanding implied that made me rethink any future with this guy. Have you ever had language affect your impression of another person? Was it intentional or a misunderstanding?


  • SeanMichaelMcCord says:

    I remember a college acquaintance of mine (yes, oddly, a jock-type) poofing his hair up (this would have been 1980) to impress a girl because he wanted to “look like that guy from American Giggle-O”.

    “Oh,” I replied “you mean Richard Gear?” (humourously mispronouncing the name of actor Richard Gere, then currently starring in American Gigolo).

    “Yeah,” he actually repeated “Richard Gear from American Giggle-O.”

    I hope his date went better than yours.

  • Marijean says:

    @SeanMichaelMcCord that is hilariously awesome. I will now always, (you know; the frequent opportunities I have) pronounce gigolo, “giggle-o.” And think of you, even though that’s even funnier and wildly inappropriate (HAHAHAHA).

  • Marijean says:

    @SeanMichaelMcCord and by the way, thank you for commenting on this rather random post that just came to me and had to be written.

  • SeanMichaelMcCord says:

    Except, aargh … I mistold my own story! I meant to write “You mean Richard Jeer?”, because I thought he would pick up on his own mispronounciation. But then he actually replied “”Yeah, Richard Jeer from American Giggle-O.”

    Thank you, anyway, for the opportunity to retell that story, @Marijean . I hadn’t thought about it in years.