Friday, March 03, 2006


You all remember Cliff Clavin? The guy on the sitcom Cheers? Cliff would sit at the bar and proclaim wildly inaccurate information, to the amusement of everyone present.

Reading this blog, I found a classic Clavinism:
"I wonder if you know that the harp is a predecessor of the modern day guitar. Early minstrels were much larger people. In fact, they had hands the size of small dogs."
I have a confession to make. I share that disease, although I never knew it had a name. I learned a long time ago that spouting Clavinisms was a remarkable talent and that having a table-full of people turn and look at you, mouths agape, was wild fun. Aaah, but then you had to explain yourself.

For example, a friend comes over and admires a specific piece of furniture. A chair, for example. The conversation might go something like this.

Friend - "Nice chair. Where did you find that covering?"

Me - "Naugahyde. Shot it myself. I think I took that particular nauga in eastern Missouri. Most people don't realize that Naugas were hunted almost to extinction in the mid '70s. Beautiful animals with brilliantly colored skins. Much more durable than cowhide or other conventional leathers. I read recently where a group of growers is trying to bring back the Nauga. They've almost created a viable herd in the Montana rockies."

Heads turns with mouths agape. Gotcha!

Sometimes, people can't tell when you are serious, or indulging in a Clavinism. Children are particulary susceptible. Milady often reprimands me for taking advantage of the grandchildren. My own daughter tells me that she suffered laugter and derision when repeating Clavinisms at school. She and Milady are taking notes and propose to publish a book entitled Pawpaws Book of Bullshit Facts.

I predict that it will be wildly successful.


Anonymous said...

It's Michelle (pawpaw's daughter) again! If any of you think he's playng, dont even go there!! To this day, I have to double check anyhting that has the most remote possibility of being obscured by my old man. I thought donuts got thier filling by storks pumped full of chocolate or lemon till I was eleven. He told me the baker had them in the back room and when he needed a filled donut, he'd put one on the end of the stork's beak and kick it, then causing the stork to spit some into the donut.

Anonymous said...

I used to tell my kids and now tell my grand-kids that I grew up before color was invented. That's why all my old photographs are in black and white. I am glad to find out that there is a name for this. You are right, it is fun, especially with kids.

Anonymous said...

Naugahyde is a running joke between my wife and me -- (cue shock and horror) "Do you KNOW how many naugas DIED to make that?????"

I had a sixth grade Social Studies teacher who told frequent whoppers (the pre-Cheers term for these is, of course, "tall tales"). Because she was a teacher, I believed her -- at least until a few of them became so comepletely unbelieveable that I ended up just not trusting this teacher at all....

I have a natural tendency towards Clavinisms, but I have three older brothers, which means I could never get away with a damned thing. I now resort to very subtle puns that most people don't even catch.

Nonetheless, here's one from a while back.... :)

Anonymous said...

Not only did I tell my daughter a tale of Nauga's that came back to haunt her when she was in COLLEGE!,but I had my children so doubtful that I had to get a lump of coal to prove to them that there was a rock that burned.
Here's a freebie:
Get some bacon rind strips about 2 in. long and 1/8-3/16 wide.
Fry them up and you have instant Chicken Lips.

Anonymous said...

I have an ugly appendectomy scar which is circular like from a once-infected bullet or arrow entrance wound. It's great fun to show it to children and tell them an arrow fired by Sitting Bull at Custer's Last Stand made the wound. I go into vivid detail of how I plucked it out and killed a dozen Comanches with it before I died.