STAFFORD: Springfielder has a way with words, voice

Tom Stafford

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Tom Stafford

“Scrape those little white and blue hardened toothpaste droppings off the bottom of your bathroom sink, arrange them in a crystal bowl and serve them as delicious after-dinner mints.”

With the election over and conspiracy theories calming down, I’m shelving the notion that I might be Dick Hatfield’s (how can I phrase this?) unacknowledged son.

We’ll get back to that in a minute.

But here’s the crux of the matter: Hatfield’s Facebook posts – the one above a classic case in point -- are funny enough in print.

For so many Springfielders, though, they come with an added bonus of, while reading the words, being able to hear them roll off Hatfield’s “live from the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria” tongue.

“Mellifluous” is the just the right word for it, because it’s a marriage of the Latin roots melli, meaning honey, and fluous, for fluent or flowing.

Because Hatfield went to Catholic schools in a previous millennium, those roots may have been seared into his brain in Latin class one day while he was being knuckle-whacked by a nun with a bump stock yardstick.

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No matter, the effect is the same.

Like a crystal serving bowl, his smooth delivery distracts us for a critical instant that the mints inside it have been spat from someone’s germ-laden mouth and congealed on porcelain that, at some point, could have doubled as a petri dish.

The effect – honey! -- is like having a sleek Amazon van stop in front of your house, hearing a thump on the porch and opening the door to find a hissing Amazonian reptile instead of your holiday potpourri.

Dick’s capacity to pull it all off with such elan is a product of what writers describe as voice. It’s not voice in the sense of a sound alone. It’s more like the voice of a movie character whose actor’s portrayal is so strong you might hear the same voice if you then read the book.

Persona is another word that fits.

And he knows just how to change its composition in a way that turns the last supper into a velvet paint-by-number featuring buckets of lard and bowls of macaroni and cheese.

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Now, I know I’m about to split hairs here. (Because Dick might read this, I’m double-checking to make sure I didn’t write “split hares.”)

While excellent, Hatfield’s recipe for what I like to call Holiday Mints in a Porcelain Reduction Sauce might be slightly improved with this addition.

Serving suggestion: Just before serving, garnish with fresh cut sprigs of Santa’s snow-white facial hair and serve with chilled beverage and a snippet of floss.

Now this is not so much a matter of right and wrong as it is a difference of personal taste or, in this instance, distaste.

Dick is no doubt in the right here by remaining on the high ground of erudite distaste.

And with the serving suggestion, I am rolling the dice, betting that the uplifting words garnish, fresh-cut, snow-white, chilled beverage, snippet and even floss might save me from sliding down the bank of distaste into the gully of disgust.

The difference between the two is why I clung so long to the notion that I might be Hatfield’s evil spawn.

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As I said though, I’m mentally in a better place now and confident that he and I merely share a recessive gene. Which brings us to my final observation about Dick.

As soon as I wrote the words, I knew I’d put myself at risk for receiving an email about Recessive Gene O’Brien, one of Dick’s childhood pals in the Irish Hill area.

I’ll sign off now with a nod to the spirit of a true Hatfield spawn: the vaudeville-like Stinky Frostheimer, whose potpourri I expect to get a whiff of any day now in the annual Hatfield holiday letter.

While we’re waiting, can I offer you some mints?