Tmesis (tmee’-sis): Interjecting a word or phrase between parts of a compound word or between syllables of a word.
My feet felt like they had been run over by a mail truck. I never should’ve done it. I was a teenage bus-idiot-boy. My friend Teddy had to go to Florida for a week while his family “settled up” his dead grandma. She was 87 and had died from No. 6 blue hair dye poisoning before the FDA had cleared it off the market. Half the elderly people in Florida had succumbed to it. Most of the poisonings were not fatal, but Teddy’s grandma was not so lucky. He had asked me fill in for him busing tables at Peter Posh Steakhouse while he travelled to Florida. He told me the tips were good and I might meet a rich girl—that was the hook for me. Having a rich girlfriend would be perfect. She might buy me a watch or take me deep sea fishing on her yacht, and maybe we would go the France or Canada or China.
My job was to pour water, deliver bread a butter to my table, clear the table when the patrons were done eating, and re-set it for the next customers. During their meal I would keep asking them in they needed more bread and butter, or water. Peter Posh made a point of visiting every table to confirm the quality of his patrons’ dining experience. I was doing fine. I had dropped a couple of pats of butter on the floor. I examined them and they looked ok to me. I put them back on the butter dish like nothing happened, congratulating myself for saving them. I should have examined them more carefully.
There was a scream from Table Six. It was the wife of Don Fredo Maloney. he was standing at his table yelling “Where’s that goddamn busboy? You’re gonna sleep with the fish tonight you little asshole. My wife doesn’t eat rat shit with her butter!” I figured I was a dead teenager. Don Fredo’s average-looking daughter stood up and yelled “Leave him alone you big fat bully!” After she said that, I thought I might survive. She ran toward me, took my hand and we ran together through the kitchen and out the back door. She told me her name was Ida Rose. I told her my name was Cat Radar. She did not believe me, so I told her my real name: Opie. We went to the bus station and hopped a bus to Boothbay Harbor, Maine where my ancestors settled in the late 17th century. It is a tourist town so we had little trouble landing jobs. I worked shucking clams and Ida Rose sold tickets to the whale watch tour. We were in love.
We wanted to get married, but we had to make amends with Don Fredo Maloney. We told him where we were. He was going to sail his yacht “Stewpots” up from New York to meet me and “work things out.” A couple of days after he arrived he suggested we go beep sea fishing as a way to get to know each other. When we got about five miles out, he told me we had to reconcile before he would let me marry Ida Rose. He said, “Put your hand over there.” I did and before I knew it he chopped off my pinky at the knuckle. He said, “Ok. Now you have my blessing.” One of his men pulled out a first aid kit a stitched up my stub. I was glad it was over. One of Fredo’s men, Angelo, baited his hook with my fingertip. Everybody laughed. I couldn’t believe my good fortune.
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).
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