My grandson, reading a Harry Potter book, came across this: “A shout rent the still air.”
Me: Do you know what rent means?
Him: Like rent a house?
Me: That’s one definition. But that’s not what this ‘rent’ means. Oh, hey, I have a story for you.
He’s an accommodating kid. I like him a lot. This is my story.
In my family, when I was growing up, we read a chapter of the Bible every night right after dinner. We each read two verses aloud until we finished the chapter. We read about people in extreme grief ripping their clothes and putting ashes on their head. The word our translation used was ‘rent’.
In second grade, we were spelling ‘rent’. My teacher started to say that there was another meaning. My hand shot up and waved. I didn’t need to wave it, because no one else’s hand was up. “To rip or tear,” I cheerfully informed the class. “Very good, Carol!” the teacher said.
The memory still makes me glow inside. And smile.
There was a small silence.
He glances at me, a smile starting to form on his mouth.
You were in second grade?
Wow, Nana, you’ve been holding on to this a long time.
I get a glimpse of what this is looking like.
Yeah, well, that’s kind of pathetic, eh? I loved knowing the right answer, I guess.
The smile has taken up residence in his eyes. He shakes his head.
No, Nana. You loved being the only one who knew the answer.
Boom! Busted! Sliced and diced!