Job Description

October 6, 2008

A Dialogue Doodle

Scene: The seafood counter of my local supermarket. I’ve just ordered a fresh trout for dinner and the clerk, a young man, is removing the head and tail.

Characters: Male Seafood Clerk; Female Produce Clerk. The Produce Clerk enters from stage left and speaks first.

Produce Clerk (to Seafood Clerk): Where’s Tishea at?

Seafood Clerk: Oh, she went and got another job—administrative assistant to some bigwig over at the YMCA.

Produce Clerk: Frosty! The girl can proper that.

Seafood Clerk: That’s right.

Produce Clerk: That Tishea—she can proper her act real fast.

The above text is a recreation of a snippet of conversation overheard by Your Faithful Blogger. What intrigued me about the exchange were two words I had not heard used in this way before. It took me a while to figure out that in this case “frosty” was meant as an intensifier, becoming “cool”-squared. And “proper,” an adjective, becomes a verb indicating Tishea’s ability to act out any role she’s given—and doing so in ways my dictionary defines as, “Displaying exaggerated propriety or gentility.” This small slice of grammatical time has been slightly edited and/or expanded, and rendered in script form for your reading pleasure.

Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.