Oroville Mercury-Register

Readying the pink leather biker gear


When I was a kid one of my favorite games was “telephone.” We’d sit in a big circle on the floor and someone would be randomly chosen as “one.” “One” would whisper something short and sweet into the next person’s ear and so on it would go until the whispers got back around to “one” who would then say what was whispered to them and then reveal the original phrase.

It was always funny or weird as what was whispered last was never what was whispered first so “call me queen bee” would end up “call me green beans” or “the shark has shiny shoes” would end up “the stork has tiny screws” or “life is but a dream” became “life’s just butter cream.” I remember playing this game with my family once and it started out with “peanut butter and jelly” but by the time it got to the end, my grandfathe­r just shrugged his shoulders and said “pastrami on pumpernick­el.” Yeah, I still don’t know how that happened.

A word or phrase that results from the mishearing of another word or phrase is called a mondegreen. A mondegreen typically sounds like the original phrase, (i.e., they’re homophonou­s) but the meaning is often entirely changed. A mondegreen should not be confused with an eggcorn (or an egg cream, for that matter), a word or phrase that is a seemingly logical alteration of another word. So while a mondegreen can be cause for amusement an eggcorn can simply cause confusion.

And so, due an eggcorn, I found myself in slightly awkward conversati­on with a lovely lady named “Linda.”

A few weeks ago I received an email from The Editor letting me know that he’d gotten a voicemail for me from a woman named “Linda,” the vice president of a group called North State Riders. Apparently, she wanted to talk to me about being a guest speaker at one of the group’s meetings so, would I please call her?

While perfectly happy to call her back, I did wonder why a motorcycle group would want me to speak to them. After all, I sold my helmet and leathers years ago. The Editor suggested maybe it was a cycling group or an equestrian group. This did not diminish my general puzzlement.

The last time I rode a bike was in Golden Gate Park and I got a little panicky going down a hill and squeezed only the front brake. The end result was the rear of the bike went up and I went off right into a police cruiser. I was fine, so was the patrol car but the officer gave me a citation and told me I was no longer allowed to ride in the park.

I also couldn’t think of what the heck I would say to an equestrian group. I am not nor have I ever been an “equestrian.” Oh sure I did some riding mostly to hang out with my daughter who truly was an equestrian but no one would have ever called me a “rider,” a “dust eater,” maybe as I came out of the saddle almost as much as I got in saddle but never a “rider.” I was a much, much better “barn mom,” than a cowgirl. And, honestly, I was good with that.

I decided before I called “Linda,” I’d Google search North State Riders to see what I could learn. Not much as it turned out.

I did find a website for “Northstate Riders,” definitely a motorcycle enthusiast­s group, but there was very little info on the site.

I told my daughter about the voicemail message and the first thing she asked me was, “What are you going to wear when you speak to them?” Geez, I hadn’t thought that far ahead but answered, “My pink combat boots?” To which she replied, “And your pink and purple Hawkeye leather jacket.”

Now that my attire had been selected, I figured I should call “Linda.”

She was so happy to hear from me and began explaining that she thought I’d be the perfect guest speaker for the group. She told me she reads this column and thought that people in the group would really be encouraged by what I might have to say. While I appreciate­d her enthusiasm and confidence in my ability to inspire others, the more she talked the more baffled I became. What could I possibly have to say to bikers that would encourage or inspire them? And, encourage or inspire them to do what? I didn’t want to be rude to this woman but, really? Seriously?

“Well, Linda…” I started to say at which point she gently corrected me saying, “Actually my name is Lynn” and then she continued, “I just remember when you and Mary Nugent, the other reporter, spoke to us several years ago …”

And that’s when it hit me, the realizatio­n that an eggcorn had gotten the best of me. I was speaking to Lynn Tosello from North State Writers, not “Linda” from Northstate Riders. Ooops!

We both got a good giggle over the confusion but, after that, our conversati­on made a whole lot more sense.

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