Any Place I Lay My Hat

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A woman I used to know told me she made a point of mispronouncing words in fine restaurants, because she knew it drove her husband crazy. "What's this gunnotchy?" she would ask the waiter, pointing to gnocchi on the menu. Once she even pronounced "steak" to rhyme with "leak." Years earlier, in a snooty French eatery, her husband had expressed embarrassment over her pronunciation of huitres, and she was still getting him back. I thought about that couple as I took in this week's news of Jason and Joumana Kidd. The former, a pro basketball star, had filed for divorce, contending, as the New York Daily News put it, that "his wife resorted to punching, kicking and throwing 'nearby household objects' to resolve marital disputes." Her lawyer pooh-poohed this claim, and mentioned that Jason, to quote the Daily News again, "was once busted for punching his wife in the mouth in a fight over his eating their son's French fries."

Over his eating his son's...? It's hard to write that scene.

"Who says they're his French fries? You always take his side."

"Aw, look, he's trying to pry them out of your hand."

"Okay, okay, jump ball!"

Possibly the French fries masked some deeper issue. Asked whether Jason was unfaithful, Joumana's lawyer said, "Do they sell pantyhose at Macy's?" That's a new one to me. I like it better than "Does a bear go poop in the woods?" It's edgier, more urban.

Speaking of figures of speech, the New York Post quoted Joumana as saying, "Home is where we lay our hat." Maybe it wasn't nearby-object-throwing or even infidelity that undermined that marriage, so much as her tendency to get expressions slightly wrong. And he can't refrain from snapping at her: "The expression, damn it, is 'Home is where I hang my hat'!" And she comes back with "Lay our hat! Lay our hat! Lay our hat!" Not the sort of thing you'd put into court papers, so we may never know.

Speaking of court, I was called for jury duty this week. Waiting in the jury room to learn whether I would be required to serve, I picked up a discarded copy of the recently redesigned, somewhat smaller Wall Street Journal. The bible of high-dollar Babbitry is not something I usually read. What I wanted to do was try to make a hat out of it. I wondered whether the Journal's narrower new page is deficient in the same way as the similarly trimmed Atlanta Journal-Constitution's. For generations, the men who print the J-Cwould fold a sheet of it into a hat that kept ink out of their hair. Now, I was told on a recent tour of the J-C's plant, the paper is just barely not wide enough to make a hat.

You don't want to be making a paper hat in a jury pool, so I read the WSJ. The new format was inviting. I learned that the dollar needs to get weaker so it won't suddenly collapse and that there is such a thing as investing in orange juice futures. Then we were called up to the courtroom. A not-guilty-looking young woman stood accused of selling cocaine. The law was going to have a hard time convincing me to send that little girl up the river.

I was peremptorily challenged. By the prosecution. You're not supposed to take that personally, but you can't help wondering what sticks out about you. I was sniffing quite a bit, but that can only have looked like what it was: sinus-related. I believe the prosecutors saw me as too kindly. If I'd been wearing a hat made out of the Wall Street Journal, I might have fooled them.