|Glint from the museum|
"When I use a word, it means exactly what I mean it to mean, no more and no less." -- Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass couldn't have been more wrong. In the People's Republic of Glint words means exactly what the person hearing them chooses for them to mean. Words are often misunderstood, sometimes accidentally and quite often on purpose. Ma'am is the master of the second example. She has a unique skill of taking a comment directed at an individual and suddenly it was meant either for an entire group or a person for whom it was not intended, sometimes even to herself.
At times this can be amusing though at other times it leads to serious misunderstandings when words suddenly take on a life of their own and say things they were not intended to. Gera and I have sometimes fallen afoul of these misunderstandings but luckily have always managed to talk and straighten things out. Misunderstandings with Ma'am are not always that easy. To help with this I have come up with a phrase that helps to clear up any misconceptions that may arise during our conversations. I simply smile innocently at her and point out that "words are tricky"™. This doesn't always work of course but it's my defense and I'm sticking with it.