Monday, August 2, 2010


Consider all the tongue can do. It probes, it wags and sometimes lodges in our cheeks. Without it I couldn’t say my name. It’s the most inquisitive organ we have as it pokes into spaces only it remembers, patrolling our teeth for remains of lunch.

I have a dim, enduring, memory at age four or five being unable to say the el sound. Levine was tough enough but Lillian, with its double el, was insurmountable. I had to ask my tongue to make a swift, return trip to the roof of my mouth. For the most part the tongue knows to get out of the way but try saying, the dog without calling it into service.

Without it the ice cream cone would never have been licked. We stick it out for doctors and stick it in to French kiss. We leave ideas on the tip of it. Discretion asks us to hold our tongue while fundamentalists go into a trance and speak in it.

When we’re most at home we speak our mother tongue and when we can’t find the right words our tongue is tied. When we can barely get them out of our mouth its because our tongue is twisted.

I haven’t had a tongue sandwich in years but there it is, under lamination, on the menu at Izzy’s Deli, Frieda’s Tongue Sandwich, $11.95, probably served with Russian dressing and mustard and a side of slaw.

A cow’s tongue is edible only if I don’t think about where it came from. But consider a giraffe’s tongue which is about two feet long. Or a blue whale's which is the size of one and half elephants.

American Indians discovered how tongues can be forked; a necessary division for politicians who speak out of both sides of their mouth. I prefer plain speak over the silver-tongue orator except for the Bard who has enriched our tongue………..

"That man that hath a tongue, I say is no man,
If with his tongue he cannot win a woman."

The tongue is our ready lyre, the instrument we are never without to contact the muse and convey words, trippingly, in our inimitable, mellifluous tones.

1 comment:

  1. Norm, a laugh at this hour is a great way to start my day. Thanks for the delight. lily