Communication Foibles

Communication is often funny, for both accidental and intentional reasons. Sometimes our words simply get ahead of what our mind can fully monitor. In other cases our intention is to be playful with words, common phrases, or jokes that offer surprising punchlines. Here are six essays from this collection that may make you smile, sometimes at events where the joke is on the author, or at a communication outcome that is inherently funny.

No! Not the Red Tab!

As I have had to remind people so many times, we can’t be expected to do everything well. Our family had a house cat with a terrible temper that made her a creature more to be endured than loved. We did our best, but problems always developed, and never more so than when she had … Continue reading No! Not the Red Tab!

Lunch Anyone?

I’m always interested in the response of my friends to a simple question. If they could conjure up anybody from the past or present, who would they like to have a leisurely lunch with? Sometimes we could use some new conversation-starters. In my circle the usual topics run all the way from A to B, … Continue reading Lunch Anyone?


Some thoughts inevitably wander off course. A person’s consciousness may have a clear fix on an idea, but the neural pathways that produce speech have to be able to deliver it. A friend recently emailed a couple who had sold a property they owned in Florida after many attempts, noting that they must be glad … Continue reading Malapropisms

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Racquetball is more than a sport. It’s a good model for the unanticipated associations, meanings and slights that are possible every time we open our mouths. A number of years of writing and teaching persuasion have forced me to be a student of the unexpected ricochet. That’s pretty much the whole game if you are playing racquetball, … Continue reading What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

No Sports, No Problem

If there is a deep structure to television and other media platforms, it’s the long reach of the story form. It’s the foundational structure for almost everything we know. It is obvious to everyone that the pandemic has sidelined almost all sport activity that would have been eagerly reported in our news and video media. … Continue reading No Sports, No Problem

Living in the National Piñata

This is an area where too many of the deer and antelope play, where wild turkeys travel in sullen gangs, and official cautions about bears are not just an academic exercise. We were at a party a few weeks ago when I happened to pick up a fragment of the conversation just in time to … Continue reading Living in the National Piñata