Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Last night before we went to sleep I was telling Andrew about our—as in the girls' and my—day. I had walked Rachel to school in the morning and just as we got to the corner of our yard our next-door neighbour came outside with their new puppy, unleashed. This new puppy bounded over to us and started prancing around us in circles, silently begging us to play. Rachel flipped out and started screaming and trying to climb into my arms. I picked her up and tried to hush her while also trying to calm the puppy. It was not the most graceful moment in Rachel's short life.*

"It wasn't even as if the puppy was barking or doing anything threatening. His tongue was just lolling out of his mouth and..."

"What?" Andrew asked.

"What?" I asked back.

"What was that last part you said?"

"His tongue was lolling out of his mouth."

"Lolling?" Andrew repeated with his eyebrows raised in incredulity.

"Yes. It was lolling."

"Like that's even a word," he said.

"It is."

"No, it's not."

"Yes. It. Is."

"What does it mean then?" Andrew asked.

"Like, hanging out. His tongue was lolling—hanging out—of his mouth."

"Prove it."

"Excuse me?"

"Look it up and show me."

I grabbed his iPod and did a voice search: "Define: lolling."

Andrew doesn't have Siri but he wishes that he does; instead he has a Google voice search app. Unfortunately my voice is so high pitched that computers don't pick it up well—phone messages that are cued to start playing when the person on the receiving end says hello do not start playing when I say hello until I lower my voice. I have been told by more than one elderly person to lower my voice—pitch-wise not volume-wise—so that their hearing aids will stop buzzing. And when I use voice search it rarely, if ever, understands anything I say.

"Define: wallowing," Google tried.

"See?" said Andrew. "It didn't even recognize the word."

"It didn't even recognize my voice," I said, pulling up the keyboard and typing in the word.

Much to his surprise, lolling popped up on the screen.

"There!" I said triumphantly. "Loll: to hang loosely. Also, to act or move in a lazy way."

"Okay, in my defense," he began, "I thought you were using LOL as a verb and I couldn't really see how a dog's tongue could LOL. I mean, I suppose a dog could LOL but can a tongue really LOL?"

I suppose it's true that the correct present tense of LOL would be lolling. Perhaps one day that definition will make it into the dictionary but for now its integrity as a word is still being debated. I don't think I've ever used the LOL sense of the word in my life until right about now...

We lolled about this while lolling in bed until tears ran down our cheeks.

*To be fair to Rachel, I completely understand where she's coming from. Even though the dog wasn't threatening in any way, shape, or form, it was still a dog. Thus, it was threatening. She's got a genuine dog phobia—something I also suffer from (but less so now that I'm an adult and can distinguish between harmless puppies and rabid wolves). It doesn't matter if the dog is fenced or leashed or smaller than a's a threat. And once that fight or flight response kicks in there is little you can do to control it when you're four years old. I am still learning to control my fears so the fact that she can't doesn't bother me at all. In fact, it's kind of funny when she freaks out and climbs me like a tree because I totally remember doing that to my own mom when I was her age.


  1. That's hilarious. And, by the way, i've never really realized you had a high-pitched voice until you mentioned it here.

  2. "Why can't we just shoot Myrna and keep the dog?"

    Yes, this dog phobia is apparently a heritable trait. My mother, me, you, your daughter...and we all are in control of it by the time we are parents, so it isn't like they learn the fear from our example. Odd, that.

  3. That is hilarious. And I've also never thought that about your voice.