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  • Jennifer Z. Major

New words, and cross burners.

We went out on Saturday evening to visit with other grown-ups. A motley crew from my husband's work. So, lots of science brains roaming loose upon the land. But don't worry, they were supervised.

So, two things to note and remember before I tell this story.

1) Our hosts had two MASSIVE Bernese Mountain Dogs. One was roughly 90-100 pounds, the other was "down to" 135 pounds.

These dogs are huge, HUGE, and very intimidating, and... totally cuddly and sweet. They have a reputation for loyal and gentle temperaments, and are excellent with children.

Many owners of Bernese Mountain Dogs call them "Berners".

Once more, BERNERS.

2) An alternative word for angry is "cross".

See that? CROSS.

Our host was describing one of the dogs in very loving and affectionate terms. They'd recently lost one of their pack, and obviously mourned her very much. The larger dog, who could easily strike mortal fear into anyone, was busy scoping out the un-eaten pizza on the table. Apparently, this dog was a thief. But so adorable!

Now, one of the guests, we'll call him Alex, is a gifted scientist (Ph.D), a great dad, and an all-around nice guy. We've known them for many years, and I love to tease him. Occasionally, I have to explain things to him, because, his science brain doesn't always catch the nuances of a joke. Mostly, but not always.

So, as the host, let's call him Steve, was describing the well known gentle nature of the Bernese Mountain Dog, he said , "You know, I've never seen a cross Berner."

Well, poor Alex, who could bring down a satellite with his thick glasses, wasn't exactly paying 100% attention to what Steve was saying, looks up and says " A CROSS BURNER!?!?!?"

Not one to miss an opportunity that was literally a gift from heaven, I said "Yeah, but I think there's one going on down the street."

In an instant panic, Alex spun around, "Really!" Here!?"

Everyone lost it. I laughed so hard that I was weeping. It was priceless.

I had to pipe in...the poor guy..."No Alex, not the Klan. Not a cross burner! Steve meant an angry Bernese. Get it? Cross Berner?"


Poor Alex literally got lost in translation.

That is why we must always be expanding our vocabulary, and never let our ears wander during a conversation. Because there are times when misinterpretation can be genuinely terrible and can start stories that bring all sorts of trouble.

So, when someone is speaking, pay attention.

Also? Keep and eye on the pizza around those big, fluffy, happy Berners.

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