"Dang it," she said.

"What was that?" I asked as I passed by the door to her sewing room.

"Dang, dart, dewlap," she said.

"Are you all right?" I asked. I wondered if I had heard her right.

"The needle just broke," she said in explanation.

"And that upset you?"

"I'm right in the middle of finishing the quilt binding," she said. She was obviously annoyed.

"So, what's with the 'Dang it' ?" I have heard more colorful words from her when she was annoyed.

"I was watching my language."

"You were watching your language?"

"I just said that," she said. She was taking out the broken needle from the machine. "Oh, feedle!" she said.

"Now what?" Feedle?

"I can't find the piece that broke off the needle. I think it fell down onto the floor. I'll never find it until I'm barefoot."

"That's the way I find lost thumb tacks," I said helpfully.

"Drat," she said. "I'll never get this finished.

"Dang, feedle, drat? What's with your new vocabulary?" She knew much better words for annoyance and frustration and letdown.

"I needed new words. The other words are all so coarse and vulgar."

"They're good old American words," I said in mild protest.

"Old and obscene," she said. "They just sound rotten."

"But we need words to shout when our car doesn't start in the morning or when the coffee burns our tongues or the IRS sends us a letter. What would you say if you stepped on that needle in the middle of the night when you get up because you finally remember where you'd left the quilt magazine that you had lost and you suddenly needed it at 2 a.m.?"

"Scump," she said.

"Scump?" Did I hear her right?

"Oh, all right. Fepperplatz."

"Honey, Dear, are you all right?" I asked, just slightly concerned that she might have broken more than the needle. This was a woman who, in more than thirty years of teaching, had heard every foul word ever spoken. "Fepperplatz?"

"I have to be careful what I say," she said. "I have new words."

I looked around the room. I didn't see anyone there. "Why do you have to be careful?" I asked. I always ask good questions like that.

"I don't want to offend the sewing machine," she said.

"The sewing machine? You don't want to offend the sewing machine?" Had I heard her correctly? Or did I have wax in my ears?

"It's less than a year old, and it's worked perfectly so far. It's still so young, and I don't want to upset it."

"Why do you think it will get upset if you say something that's not nice in polite society?"

"It just does. I didn't attach the border to the new quilt just right the other day, and I got mad and said something rotten, and then the machine slowed down and stopped. I apologized and it went back to work."

"You apologized to a sewing machine?"

"I promised I wouldn't say anything bad anymore."

"So, you use nicer words?"

"Yes," she said. She finished replacing the needle and threaded it and got ready to work on the quilt again. I looked at the machine to see if it was content.

"What kinds of words?" Maybe I could write a new dictionary.

"When I burn something with the iron, I say rump or frample," she said with a soft song in her voice. I think she was caressing the machine at the same time.

"What if you accidentally threw out the last yard of fabric you needed for your new Friendship Star quilt binding after working forty-eight hours straight to get the quilt finished and there was no more fabric in the world that you could replace it with."

"I never throw out any fabric," she said. "I'm doing the binding now.

"But if you did?"

"Blankety doop," she said.

"And if you ran a needle through your finger?" She had to lose control sometime.

"I haven't done that since I was in junior high."

"But if it happened again. What would you say?"

"Heck's peck! I'd say it loud, too."

"Just so you wouldn't upset the sewing machine?"

"And the quilt, too."

"They might get their feelings hurt?"

"Words can be cruel," she said. She began sewing. The telephone rang in the other room.

"I'll be back to hear some more," I said. I turned to leave the room, and in my bewilderment at what my Darling Wife has just told me, I bumped into the door frame. "Oh, forkle," I said, my head throbbing from the collision.

"Are you all right?" my wife asked with deep concern.

"I'm all right." I said as I rubbed my head. But what I really wanted to say was, "Gush, darn, doofle trup."

Click here to see Friendship Star Quilt

Copyright 1998 by A.B. Silver

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