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Listener Mail

Hello, everybody. Welcome to another newsletter from A Way with Words!

This weekend we aired a repeat episode in which we discussed "drive safe" vs. "drive safely," the meaning of "paratereseomaniac," and the expression "bread and butter," a superstitious saying you use when you're walking down the street with someone and you each walk around either side of a pole, mailbox, or other obstruction.


We had a new batch of responses to our "bread and butter" call. (You can hear about other responses on last week's show: <https://www.waywordradio.org/roadtrip/>.)

Elaine in Indianapolis said her mother, who passed away last November at 93, used the expression. Listener Gail said her mother, who passed away at 92 and was originally from Michigan, also said it. Suzanne in Indianapolis says you *have* to say "bread and butter" when two people are divided by an obstruction or else the two people will fight later.

A number of you wrote and called about Greg Pliska's puzzle in which he said that Elizabeth Taylor had been married to Conrad Hilton. You said she was married to Nicky Hilton. Well, everybody's right. Nicky's full name is Conrad Nicholas "Nicky" Hilton. Nicholas was not his first name, as some of you said. We should have made it clearer, however, who we were talking about.

We also had a lot of calls and emails about Martha's use of the mixed metaphor "it's not rocket surgery." She intentionally used this mix of "rocket science" and "brain surgery" as a more jocular way of making her point. Grant has done an entry for it that traces it back to at least as early as 1994:


In response to our call about the children's game "duck, duck, goose," which you also heard in the "Road Trip!" episode of last week, Francie from Greenfield, Wisconsin, wrote in to say that the "duck, duck, gray duck" game isn't just a Minnesotan game. She says she played that version of the game growing up in Waterloo, Iowa. AnnMarie from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, says she learned it growing up in South Dakota. A contributor to our discussion forum writes that in the version he played, each person was assigned a color and the color you wanted was gray.

And Brian, formerly of Windom, Minnesota, comments in our discussion forum, "The use of 'gray duck' was usually used as a fake in a game of duck-duck-goose. You'd walk around the circle, calling out duck, duck, duck, and then g-g-g-g-gray duck, to make the other kids think that you were about to say g-g-g-g-g-goose. The 'guh' sound was meant to rile the other kids, so they didn't know what to expect."

Don't forget that you can always enjoy the show after the show on our web site. Every episode is posted for online listening and conversations about them continue in our forums.

That's all from your wordy pals. We'll be on the air next week with a brand-new episode.


Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett

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