I heard a joke the other day. How many Charlestonians does it take to change a light bulb? Ten: One to actually switch it out and nine to reflect on how special the old one was and how the new one isn’t quite the same. Even though they’re both good old-fashioned 100-watt GE incandescents and not one of those new compact fluorescents.
Speaking of preservation, Elizabeth Maybank reports a major coup that received some coverage in April, but not much. And that would be the placing of a conservation easement on Camp Ho Non Wah by the Coastal Boys Council, which happens to own it. According to a Lowcountry Open Land Trust press release, the 146-acre camp, located on Wadmalaw Island, has provided thousands of Boy Scouts with unique outdoor experiences for more than 80 years.
The Coastal Boys Council granted the easement to the Lowcountry Open Land Trust at a bargain price with funding provided in part by Charleston County’s Rural Greenbelt project.
Hugh Lane, chairman of the Charleston County Greenbelt Bank Board, said of Camp Ho Non Wah, “It’s a critical piece of property that is extremely valuable as a waterfront development. The Boy Scouts are to be commended for a conservation-oriented solution that benefits everyone.”
With this latest development, nearly 30 percent of Wadmalaw has been placed under easement protection. Maybank, director of the Open Land Trust, considers it vital that children disconnect from technology, slow down, reconnect with the outdoors and experience things that create a unique sense of place and identity. She writes, “We received an unusually strong response in the way of donations and support for the protection of this property.
“People love the Scouts and deeply care about Camp Ho Non Wah. Given the precarious future of Scout-owned properties across the nation and the national decline in scouting, the camp is a beacon for many reasons ... The leadership of the Coastal Boys Council to protect this valuable asset is commendable.”
I recently read an article in the latest issue of Psychology Today about malapropisms, otherwise known as slips of the tongue or Freudian slips. Everybody has them. Usually they’re harmless, often amusing, sometimes humiliating.
According to the article, Freud would likely have insisted that malaprops signify repressed thoughts that suddenly rear up and that each one of us, at any given moment, harbors an F-bomb or something of equal impact just waiting to explode.
Poor Ted Kennedy. During one of his speeches, the famous Massachusetts senator and orator intoned, “Our national interest ought to be to encourage ...” his hands now cupping the air, “the breast and brightest ... er, the best and brightest.”
President Bush the Elder wasn’t immune. What would you expect given that his son made the malaprop an art form? “For seven and a half years,” President H.W. declared, “I’ve worked alongside President Reagan. We’ve had some triumphs. Made some mistakes. Had some sex ... uh ... setbacks.”
These were both simple missteps of the tongue, although I guess it doesn’t go beyond the realm of imagination to picture Sen. Kennedy thinking of cleavage. The problem, according to Daniel Wegner, a Harvard psychologist, is that the subconscious must play some role in slips of the tongue — just not exactly in the way Freud thought.
In an experiment well-known in the psychology arena, Wegner asked volunteers not to think of a white bear. He then told them to speak about anything that was on their minds.
In the stream of conversation that followed, the forbidden white bear raised its head about once a minute. Apparently, the more the conscious mind (prefrontal cortex) wants to suppress a thought, the more the unconscious has to check and make sure we’re not thinking about it. So guess what? We end up thinking of it more.
It’s more complicated than that, but I leave you with several noteworthy linguistic avalanches:
“This president is going to lead us out of this recovery.” Dan Quayle.
“They misunderestimated me.” George W. Bush.
“Even Napoleon had his Watergate.” Yogi Berra
“I’d like to spank all teachers.” George W. Bush.
“As I was telling my husb — as I was telling President Bush.” Condoleezza Rice.
“The police aren’t here to create disorder; they’re here preserve disorder,” Mayor Richard Daley.
Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at edwardgilbreth@ comcast.net.