(Writers face their own dangers: words can be elusive, slippery, even Protean, changing shape before the reader’s very eyes!)
I must admit that on first glance, I read the Zwinger quote as: “Dessert is what I want when there are no more questions to ask”.
Of course what the actual quote had said was: “Desert is where I want to be when there are no more questions to ask.”
Besides offering me a glimpse into Chris’s psyche, and his possible sweet tooth, his misreading reminded me of many of my own in the past, when my mind, at warp speed, often second-guessed my eyes to come up with interesting messages.
I remember one favorite from the time I went to a Zen workshop at Inisfada, a Jesuit retreat house on Long Island. I had often passed by the stately old mansion, but had never driven in. This time I turned and went up the long drive until it forked left and right. There was a small sign, with an arrow pointing left, which I read with some surprise:
PARKING FOR BELIEVERS
When I followed it, intrigued, I found myself at what was clearly the servant-and-tradesmen end of the mansion. Oh, I realized. Parking for Deliveries!
Many more years ago, when we would bring our kids to camp up in Starlight, Pennsylvania, I was always taken by a billboard along Route 17. It pictured a large cocky rooster, followed by a large plump hen, and it said (I read):
BRING THE BROAD
I was pretty sure the hotel thus advertising was a family hotel, and it seemed slightly odd, not to mention a little risqué (this was in the 1970’s) that it would use such a suggestive ad campaign. But mine not to question why, mine to get the kids to camp, and to visit them, so a couple of times a summer I mildly wondered, and forgot about it.
Until the last summer of their going to camp, when for the first time I noticed that the rooster and the hen were followed by a string of small chicks, and that the slogan in question actually said: BRING THE BROOD.
Frankly, I found my misreadings (most of which are lost in the snows of yesteryear of my brain) more interesting and provocative than the actual announcements. So I’ve been a little disappointed of recent years that this source of entertainment seems to have dried up with age. (Although just the other day, in Barnes & Noble, I looked at a book cover that read Water for Eggplants. You recognize it? Yeah, the Elephants.
Anyone else out there mis-read? Do you have any interesting examples? I’d love to see them and post them here. Maybe it would stimulate my buttoned-up mind into some more of my own.