Gaah! My cheeseburger is extra moist today, I said, wiping grease from my chin.
"Eww, gross, Kid. Don't say that word," said Karl, visibly cringing. He pretended to gag on his food.
What, cheeseburger? What's wrong with saying cheeseburger? I asked. You just ordered one without any problem.
My friend Karl and I were at Klompen, our favorite Dutch-themed restaurant, which we hadn't visited in nearly a year. We were having a late lunch after a day of writing and editing to watch the Excelsior Maassluis – FC Volendam football match on satellite TV.
The manager, Inge, had warned us to be on our best behavior, but we couldn't help ourselves. It's like asking fish not to pee in the lake.
"No apenstreken today, you two! No monkey business!" she warned us when we walked in. She pointed at us sternly, and I flashed back to memories of my Dutch grandmother yelling at me to stop skating in the kitchen because she had just mopped it.
Inge's memory was airtight, like a miser's pocket. We had hoped she had forgotten our last visit, but she did not. She never did. It was all Karl's fault anyway.
"There's nothing wrong with saying cheeseburger," groused Karl, swallowing what he had been chewing. "It's that. . . other word I hate."
Extra? Rather? Today? I said, wide-eyed and innocent. I knew what his problem was; I just liked messing with him.
"No! You know what I'm talking about!" Karl half-shouted, rising from his chair. Inge glared from across the room. I pointed at Karl so she would know I was blameless; I'm helpful that way.
Ohh! You mean moist!
"Stop saying that, Kid! It's a terrible word." Karl dropped his burger onto his plate and wiped his mouth. He shuddered and took a drink of beer, plonking the bottle back onto the table.
Why, what's wrong with moist?
"It just sounds terrible!" He took a huge swig from his beer, trying to wash away the memory of the word.
I don't understand the problem, I said, fully understanding the problem. You never watched the Mickey Moist Club and his band of Moistketeers when you were a kid?
"Cut it out!"
Not a big fan of Moistes Alou, formerly of the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants?
"Oh, God, please stop."
I'm just trying to have a little fun, you know. Trying to make the moist of a bad situation.
"You don't know when to quit, do you?"
Oh, come on! I said. What's the problem?
"I hate that word."
So do a lot of people. I do, too, if we're being honest.
"Then why do you keep saying it."
I like irritating you more. It's one of those terrible words that people hate, like squirt, phlegm, or crevice.
"What's wrong with crevice?" said Karl. "That's not so bad."
Really? So you're OK if I say 'moist crevice?'
"Oh, sweet jebus!" Karl shuddered like someone had shoved a snake down his pants.
Told you. So what's the problem today? I can't be the only reason you're having an apoplectic fit.
"No, it's definitely you," groused Karl. "Well, you and the Kraft company."
Yeah, that's not the first time someone's said that. So what did Kraft do this time? I asked, taking another bite of my burger. I had to refuel for another round of Bad Moist Puns.
"They're trying to get the Merriam-Webster dictionary to name. . . that word as the Word of the Year."
Eww! I said. I'm all for a good moist pun, but that's a bridge too far. What are they doing?
"Apparently, they're trying to hack the searches for the word on the Merriam-Webster website. If they can increase the number of searches, they can get it into the running for Word of the Year."
Gross. That's worse than trying to redeem Kylo Ren at the end of the last Star Wars movie.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," lied Karl the Liar. I knew for a fact that he owned every Star Wars movie on Blu-Ray. "Oh, and get this, they even put a six-foot replica of an empty Kraft Mayonnaise jar outside Merriam-Webster's headquarters."
Eww! Double gross! I mean, it's one thing to try to cheat the system, but it's a whole other thing to put a jar of the third-best mayonnaise outside someone's office.
"Third best?" snarled Karl. He coiled, prepared to leap out of his seat. "What are you saying, Kid? You better not—"
Hellmann's, Duke's, Kraft, I reassured him. Now settle down.
Karl sat back. "Ah, OK," he said, the tension draining from his face. "I was worried you were going to say Miracle Whip."
Good Lord, Karl! What kind of 'moinster' do you take me for? Karl called me a bad word and threw a french fry at me.
"Knock it off, you two," said Inge, stomping over to our table. "I told you, no apenstreken! No monkey business!"
"Karl thought I was going to say Miracle Whip was a good mayonnaise."
"Eww, Karl!" said Inge, cringing.
"He keeps saying 'moist' at me!" protested Karl.
"Why? What's wrong with that?" asked Inge. "At least he's not saying 'slurp.'"
"Eww, Inge!" we both shouted.
Photo credit: PascalMWiemers (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)
My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available from 4 Horsemen Publications. You can get the ebook and print versions here.