Literal Larry

We have some many figures of speech and colloquialisms in this English language of ours.  A few years ago, I was thinking about this and how it could be confusing to little children.  I guess that lead into the idea for this story that I wrote.  At the time, I was reading a lot of Amelia Bedelia to my son, so I think that added more fuel to the fire.  I doubt this would ever be a best seller, but it was fun writing it.  Here it is.

Literal Larry and the Confusing Conversation



“Let’s all hop in the car and go to Aunt Rosa’s farm,” suggested Mr. Lenster.  “Okay


Dad!” responded young Larry.  Using all the strength he could muster, Larry yanked


open the door of the blue Pontiac, quickly scrambled in and began to hop up and down on


the floorboards.  “What in the world are you doing Larry? “ asked Dad in a bit of a raised


voice. “You need to stop that right now.”  “You said to hop in the car, Dad.”  Larry


replied innocently.  “I didn’t mean it literally, Larry,” answered Dad. “I just meant to get


in the car so we can go on our way.”  “Oh” was all that Larry could manage to say as he


moved to get into his booster seat.


Larry Lenster had learned a lot in his 3-½ years of life.  He knew his ABC’s.  He could


count to 20.  Thanks to the help of his 6-year-old neighbor Alicia, he could even do a


cartwheel!  He could follow instructions as long as they were simple ones.  He


understood when his dad said “No!” he meant “No!”  However, there was something he


didn’t understand that sometimes confused him.   He did not understand when grown ups


spoke using figures of speech.  Such expressions as “walking on thin ice”, “putting your


foot in your mouth”, or “hop in the car” (of course, now he understood what that meant)


really baffled his mind.  Although Larry’s parents did not realize it, they often used slang


or figurative language when they spoke to each other.  As a result, Larry did not


 understand half the things they said.  Such was the case on this particular day as Larry,


his 5 year old sister Aggie and his parents rode in the family car, headed for Aunt Rosa’s


farm which was 3 hours away.  The first half-hour of the trip was nothing unusual.  Dad


was busy driving.  Everyone else was busy looking out the window, so not too many


words were exchanged.  After a short period of seeing nothing but corn stalks on the


roadsides, Larry became sleepy.  His sister Aggie had already drifted into a peaceful


sleep.  He was just about to nod off when his mom asked his dad a question.  “Did you


hear that Wallace and Olivia are going to tie the knot?”  asked Mrs. Lenster.  Larry


perked up.  He knew Wallace and Olivia.  They went to his church.  Larry wondered why


they were going to tie a knot, but he was a quiet boy and a little on the shy side so he


didn’t ask.  He decided maybe their shoelaces were like his and never stayed tied more


than 5 minutes without a double knot.  “Oh, that’s great!” replied Mr. Lenster, “I know


Mrs. Baumhard (Olivia’s mother) will be pleased.  She was so afraid that Olivia would


become an old maid.”  Larry knew what a maid was.  His friend Teddy had a maid that


worked at his house.  He didn’t know Olivia was a maid too.  In his mind he could see


Olivia dressed like a maid, but she certainly wasn’t old.  Old was what Grandma looked


like.  Mrs. Lenster responded with, “Well, I’m happy for Wallace and Olivia.  They make


a fine match.”  “Wow!” thought Larry, “Olivia is a maid and she makes matches too!  So


does Wallace.  Daddy told me not to play with matches.  He said I might start a fire.  I


hope Wallace and Olivia don’t start a fire.  They better be careful!”  Larry was growing


more sleepy, but he still wanted to hear his parents talk about Wallace and Olivia.  Mr.


Lenster was speaking now.  “I’m not so sure about that.  Olivia is a real penny pincher,


but I’ve seen Wallace blow his money quite a few times. “    A puzzled look spread itself


across Larry’s face.  He could not understand why Olivia would want to pinch pennies. 


Did she not like money?  Larry remembered one time he got mad at Aggie and pinched


her.  He got himself in big trouble and never did it again.    He wondered how Wallace


blew his money.  Did he blow it with his mouth?  Maybe he used a hair dryer.  If Larry


could blow money, he knew that he would use a fan.  Then the money would blow far


and he could have lots of fun running and trying to catch it.   Mrs. Lenster interrupted


Larry’s thoughts as she made a comment.  “That may be so, but to Olivia, Wallace is a


knight in shining armor. He certainly has swept her off her feet!”  Larry had seen a suit of


armor at a museum just last week.  His daddy had explained to him what it was.  He was


excited to know that Wallace had one of those gleaming metal suits too.  He hoped


maybe Wallace would wear his suit to church sometime so he could see it. As for


sweeping Olivia off her feet, Larry couldn’t imagine why Wallace would want to do that. 


It seemed like a mean thing to do.  He wondered if Wallace had used a big push broom


like the one his dad kept in the garage.  Did Olivia fall down and get hurt when she was


swept off her feet?  Maybe she needed a Band-Aid.  Larry used Batman Band-Aids on his


owies.  “Olivia is a lady.  She probably uses the pink Band-Aids with ballerinas on them


like Aggie does.” Larry guessed.   Mr. Lenster was speaking now.  “ Well, I am happy for


them, but Olivia is quite a bit older than Wallace.  She’s really robbing the cradle.” At


this point, Larry was so tired he could hardly keep his eyes open.  In addition to that, he


thought his dad had said that Olivia was rocking the cradle instead of robbing it.  He


knew what a cradle was.  Daddy had showed him the cradle Larry slept in when he was a


baby.  It was up in the attic.  Mama had sung the Rock-a-bye-baby lullaby many times, so


he was very familiar with cradle rocking.  In his mind he pictured Olivia slowly rocking


his cradle up in the attic, and this caused him to finally slink off into slumber in his


booster seat.  He never heard another word spoken on the subject of Wallace and Olivia,


but that was okay.  The confusing conversation of his parents had totally filled his mind


with all the ingredients of which wild dreams are made!


2 thoughts on “Literal Larry

  1. I love this. I have a 6 year old daughter and she, too, is very literal. My hubby and I are always having to watch what we say around her b/c it is just too hard to explain certain “figures of speech” to her. This is very funny. I think you should try to publish it somewhere.


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