Joanne Palmer: Steamboat’s ‘My Fair Lady’
August 11, 2010
If Eliza Doolittle came to Steamboat, how would Henry Higgens instruct her?
In case you don't remember the movie, "My Fair Lady," Rex Harrison starred as professor of phonetics Henry Higgins. Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by teaching her impeccable speech.
Let's eavesdrop on a sample Steamboat conversation and see what would happen.
Eliza: Yo, wassup?
Henry: Wassup? Dear me! That sounds like water running down a drain. That is not a proper greeting at all. "Hello," "good morning" or "good afternoon" or "good evening" are all better. "Yo," I suppose, is a shortened version of "you" and absolutely not a proper way to address someone. Let's try again.
Eliza: Good morning. Like, what do ya wanna do today? Dude, ya wanna spend a couple hours in the saddle at the BMX track? Like, dude, I'm kinda hung over.
Henry: Stop! Stop! Stop! You sound like a street urchin. This is utterly and totally vulgar. This is worse than the sound of fingernails screeching down a blackboard. It is unacceptable to perforate every sentence with "like" and "dude." And we certainly don't need to be advised of your alcohol consumption. Privacy, please! By "in the saddle," are you asking your friend to go horseback riding?
Eliza: "In the saddle," refers to a bike ride, you snobby, high-falutin' dope. I'm going to get this right now: "Good morning, my friend. Would you care to ride your bicycle with me today? It's sposta rain so bring a jacket."
Eliza: Yeah, "sposta" is one of the most popular words in Steamboat. Sposta snow, sposta be sunny, sposta get cloudy. Get it?
Henry: Good grief woman. I get it all right. That is a terrible combination of two words: supposed and to. It is supposed to rain, supposed to get cloudy. Try again.
Eliza: Good morning. Would you care to ride your bicycle with me today? We may experience inclement weather. I hear it is supposed to rain, so the trail may be a little sketchy. Bring a jacket. We're burning daylight here so lemme know.
Henry: Sketchy? Are you going to bring a drawing pad along and some watercolors? And obviously you can't take a match to the hours of the day.
Eliza: No, sketchy means the trail might not be in perfect condition and burning daylight means, "Hurry up!"
Henry: Sigh. Try your sentence again.
Eliza: Good morning. Would you care to ride your bicycle with me today? We might experience inclement weather in the form of a late afternoon drizzle. I implore you to bring a jacket. I am anxious to go, so please advise me of your estimated time of arrival. C-ya!
Henry: Much better. You almost made it. What is C-ya?
Eliza: Everyone in Steamboat says it. I think it means, "See you later."
Henry: Well at least you didn't say, "Catch you on the flip side." Please say your sentence one last time.
Eliza: Good morning, my sweet friend. Would you care to ride your bicycle with me today? We might experience inclement weather in the form of a late afternoon drizzle. I implore you to bring a jacket. I am anxious to go, so please advise me of your estimated time of arrival. I hope to see you shortly.
Henry: By George, I think she's got it.