A couple of years ago I had to go to Leon, Oklahoma for a speaking and singing engagement. As I reached the top of a hill near the Red River border I was surprised to see a herd of llamas in the middle of the highway at the bottom of the hill. Upon seeing an unfamiliar Toyota, they immediately scattered and headed for the borrow-ditch.
Upon returning home that evening I called my mother to let her know I was back in town. During our telephone conversation I remembered seeing the llamas, and said, “There was a bunch of llamas in the road between here and Leon. She asked, “Were they riding motorcycles?” After a moment of silence I replied, “No, they were just standing there looking around.”
Confused by mom’s question, and amused by the mental image of a long-necked llama riding a motorcycle with his head thrown back and his sideburns blowing in the breeze, I said, “They did move out of the road when they saw me coming.” “Um,” she said, “I bet they were looking for an escapee.”
“What,” I thought to myself, “A herd of llamas on motorcycles looking for an escapee?” That’s when I realized she understood me as saying “lawmen.”
I also realized that the misunderstanding was no fault of my mother’s. Every time I try to call one of the utility companies I am greeted by a computer that says, “State your name.” After stating my name, the computer then says, “Please repeat.” After two or three attempts with the same results, I put in my dentures and repeat my name once again only to hear, “Unable to understand. Please press ‘0’.”