Alex is Brooklyn Dru and Dru
Part I: Deme or Teme
I attended a Jesuit-run college preparatory high school, Brooklyn Preparatory School or Brooklyn Prep.
There, they taught dead and dying languages, Latin and ancient Greek, but also worked to kill good old Brooklynese.
When I was a junior, I was on the dance committee and would announce upcoming dances and also mention each dance’s particular t-h-e-m-e. It would come out of my mouth either “deme” or “teme.” Well, my home room teacher and classmates would whoop and holler in mockery of my Brooklynese or Brooklyn accent. It got to the point where I was compelled (shamed really) to make a special effort to banish the accent and to master the “th” sound, so going further, it came out as “theme” as it was supposed to be spoken. And I also succeeded in properly pronouncing the other “th” words as well.
In my mid-20’s, I met a fellow who introduced himself as Joe “Tu-man.” Curious, I asked him to spell his last name. He obliged and said it was spelt t-h-u-m-a-n but pronounced as if the “h” were silent. I informed him then and there that I took such grief about, and expended so much effort in correcting, the way I pronounced words with “th” that I did not care whether he liked it or not, but his name would be pronounced with the “h.” Thu-man. And that was that.
Part II: The Tale of Tin Rope
Is being handy with tools something that comes naturally or does it come with nurturing? Well, there is little issue that I was born a klutz. Also, being sent to a college preparatory high school where Shop was not part of the curriculum, I never was able to overcome my natural klutziness. And nor did my father do anything to help me overcome it.
Anyway, one evening during my teen years, I was helping my father. It did not take much (and somethings, it took nothing at all) for my father to be pissed at me. It was during one of those moods, when he told me to go to the garage and to bring him some “tin,” t-i-n, rope.
Tin rope? I gave this some thought. Is there any rope made of tin? I did not think so. Was he saying “tin” in Brooklynese, really referring to “thin” rope? Nervously, I gambled that that was the case and was greatly relieved when my father did not scream at me when I handed him “thin” rope.