In which the author tries to say 'tucows'
|Uncertainty is a terrible curse. That Danish prince said it better, but then he did not have to pronounce "Tucows". I came across the word in an article of best free web downloads, or maybe it wasn't a download but an upload or a reference site. Don't ask me! When in doubt, I just hit the 'back' button.
I had seen the word before and accepted it as 'TOO-COHS', with a long 'o' in the second place, but yesterday, while in the shower of course, I had a revelation. Could it not be 'TWO-COWS', pronounced using the name of the bovines that graze in the farms around here? Why not?
How could I know for sure? I could not email anybody and try my pronunciation on them, because email, for all its wonders, is not an aural presentation. I could pick up the phone and call someone, but whom? I have this great fear of embarrassment, of being driven out of this garden of enlightenment, should I be mispronouncing the word.
I can never say those neat French phrases like "Roman a clef' because I have no idea how to pronounce them. The last ATTEMPT to order a ham and cheese sandwich at a cafe in France was met by waves and smiles from the African men at the next table, who explained that 'Jambon', pronounced Zham-Boh, was the Swahili word for 'Hello'. This was thirty years ago but the mortification sticks with me.
Don't even ask me to try those long German words that mean joy at others suffering, or world-weariness or some other metaphysical concept. I am sure to swallow one or two syllables.
I simply don't have my mother's gift of certainty. Way back in 1954-55, when Tito Puente and Prez Prado were bringing their sounds out of Cuba, we went to a parade where each band had a theme, shown on a banner which led them up the street. Mother calmly pronounced, "Here come the MAAM-BO clowns", while I cringed and pretended I did not know this woman. She stuck with that VERSION for the three remaining decades of her life.
Getting back to my problem, I was not sure that 'Tucows' would fade from view and I could get through life without having to say it aloud. So many of these technical words that I see suddenly pop into usage when support must be called.
It was through a technician that I found one could pronounce 'fdisk' as 'EFF-Disk', just as it looks, and that it was not a description of the disk, but a function that will solve all these problems by wiping clean your drive and letting you start again. Who says there are no second acts in computer life?
Another thought was that perhaps 'Tucows' was owned by the Tucow Corporation, or Tucow.com and that they might have an '800' number I could call secretly and listen to the way they answered the phone. On second thought, their phones are probably answered by a company which does nothing but respond to calls on toll free telephone lines, and whose operations are located in an old missile silo somewhere in the Northern Plains, and that their version of 'Tucows' would be no better than mine.
As day brightened around here, I realized a solution was just down the road, standing out in the fields. I could ask the bovine community if 'tucows' was an alternative spelling of 'two cows'. It could be that 'tucows' is valid in Holstein dialect, but not in Guernsey or whatever they call the brown cows.
I suspect I should ask the farmer for permission, and assure him I am not trying to unionize his cows. I won't wear my red kerchief and I will tell my dog to refrain from barking 'Solidarity Forever'. My only puzzle will be which cows to interview.
While most of the cows mill about in the mud and grass, there is always one of two individuals who stake out the high ground. The farm I intend to visit has an overturned bathtub in the paddock outside the barn, and no matter the weather, one cow will always climb atop it and survey all he or she can see.
I do not know if she is the leader, or whether she is keeping her eye out for lions. She certainly seems content standing up there, but then so do the rest of the cows. I will put on my hip boots and report back later.
On second thought, as I read over this piece, I've become aware that my mind is slipping away into obscurity, and I am reaching out for that certainty my mother had in spades. The strains of "Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White" come filtering into my head. You'll put up with 'Two-Cows' for the remaining decades, won't you?