Q is for Quizentential

img_1223“Quizentential”? I bet you’re wondering if that’s a typo? You’re probably thinking that it’s not even a word.

You’re right. “Quizentential” is not an actual word. What it is, though, is one of my most mortifying moments. Let me explain.

In 1995 I moved to New Hampshire for a job as the director of operations for an up and coming software and services company. My wife, who was still in Pennsylvania with our kids, came up on my second weekend there to look at houses for us to buy and we spent most of the weekend driving around southern New Hampshire looking at houses for sale.

This was back in the dark ages before there were GPS devices and Google Maps on iPhones to direct you from point A to point B. So we had to rely on folding paper maps and the local folk for directions.

On our second day of house hunting, we stopped by for coffees this quaint little place in some quaint little town. After we finished our coffee, I went up to the proprietor of the coffee shop to ask for directions to the next house we were going to see. I unfolded the map and gave him the address and asked him the best way to get there.

He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Ayuh, you can’t get theah from heah.” After we left the coffee shop my wife and I were cracking up over what to us was seemed like the quintessential New England response to our question.

Anyway, I had regularly scheduled meetings with my team leaders every Monday morning at 8:30. On the Monday morning after our house hunting weekend, one of my team leaders asked me, in front of all eight of those assembled for my meeting, how our house hunting weekend went.

I said that we’d seen a bunch of houses, but we’d probably have to keep looking. And that was when I said, “We had the funniest and most quizentential New England experience.”

As soon as I heard the words come out of my mouth I knew I had mispronounced “quintessential.” Everyone in the conference room silently stared at me.

2C121E0B-A27A-4225-8016-C13F2DB0DE20I was truly mortified. I figured I could either pretend I hadn’t mispronounced quintessential and continue as if nothing had happened, or I could, knowing that everyone had heard me say “quizentential, admit my mistake and move on.

I decided on the latter. But if there was a hole I could have just fallen into, I would have chosen to do that.

Thursday Photo Prompt — Snow

“Snow,” Darla said.

“Snow?” her father asked. “That’s what you want for Christmas?”

“Yes, Daddy. Snow. I’ve never seen snow in real life. I’ve never even touched it. I want to know what it’s like to have a white Christmas.”

Jack and his wife moved to South Florida from New Hampshire about 12 years earlier, before Darla was born. Since their divorce, Darla stayed with Jack alternating weekends and every other Christmas and Thanksgiving. This year, it was his turn to host her for Christmas.

He thought back to his days in New Hampshire and how he loved to hike in the woods during the winter. Despite the sometimes bitter cold, it was invigorating, energizing. He could understand why his daughter, who had never been outside of Florida, might want to experience a real winter.

“Okay,” Jack said. “Let me clear it with your mother and then I’ll make plans to take you to where there is snow.”

After getting his wife’s blessing, Jack booked flights and a hotel room and, a few days before Christmas, he and Darla headed north. He didn’t know which of them was more excited, Darla at the prospect of seeing snow for the first time, or him heading back to the stomping grounds of his younger days.

On the first day of their trip they went to a local clothing store and bought flannel shirts, water-resistant snow pants, winter jackets, knit caps, gloves, and hiking boots. On the second day, they woke up early, ate a hardy breakfast, dressed warmly, and headed out onto a woodsy trail that followed a small stream.

Darla was tickled by being able to see her breath as she breathed and talked. She and Jack engaged in a friendly snowball fight, before continuing their hike. After a few hours on the trail, though, Jack noticed that Darla seemed a little less enthusiastic than she had been when they first started out. “Darla, honey, are you okay?” he asked.

She looked up at her father, not wanting to disappoint him. “I’m very cold, Daddy. I’m kinda wet, too. And I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Do you want to head back to the hotel?” he asked.

Darla nodded. “Yes, Daddy. And then can we go back home? I don’t think I like the snow as much as I thought I would,” she said. “And it’s just too cold here. Not like Florida.”

“Sure, sweetie,” he said, wondering if the store would take back all the winter clothing he had bought just the day before.

Written for this week’s Thursday Photo Prompt from Sue Vincent.