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S. O. C. K. S.

I get it from my mother.

You know, that thing we do as writers, where a word like “concinnity” gets stuck in your head, and when you’re reading through the manuscript six months later, the copy editor has wondered why anyone would use concinnity once, never mind thirteen times in one chapter.

My first live, on-air TV interview was seven minutes long. I used the word “absolutely” thirteen times.

Yeah, a lot of authors do it…but I’m smart enough to admit that I come by it honestly. Genetically.

It is what it is.

I’m not a huge fan of the saying: “It is what it is.” Not sure why…probably because I’m a dreamer by trade who earns a living things that are not. Things aren’t what they seem all the time, and contrarywise. But it’s vernacular now, and as a student of language–not just English–I can respect the phrase’s right to exist.

Lately, though, Mom’s taken to saying, “It is what it is. S. O. C. K. S.”

I had NO idea what she meant by this–I figured it was some meme she saw on Facebook, or some family story I hadn’t heard yet, or an acronym from the latest, greatest self-help guru. I didn’t worry about it…I knew I’d hear the story at some point.

This evening, we had a guest for dinner. While cleaning up, Mom and the guest were discussing something that made the phrase appropriate. “It is what it is,” said Mom. “S. O. C. K. S.” After a pause, she said to the guest, “That’s Spanish, you know.”

I was taken aback. It IS Spanish, of course! Eso si que es…which means exactly that: It is what it is. I speak conversational Spanish, and French, and less Greek, and even less Romanian…but it had never occurred to me that Mom might be speaking Spanish. I felt rather foolish.

“It’s easy to remember,” Mom continued, “because it’s spelled just like ‘socks.'”

I resisted the urge to laugh out loud, lest Mom think it was at her expense. She had been spelling out S. O. C. K. S. And that’s exactly what I had been hearing. She wasn’t speaking Spanish, not really, and never had been.

My ear for languages? I get that from my father.

Eso si que es.

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