Short story: Agent Orange


Billy challenged his lockdown pen-pal Stuart to find a rhyme for the word orange.

Stuart being Stuart, got sidetracked immediately, but did show a flash of wit before his head departed for the clouds.

“I’m trying to ‘orange’ a session with a lexicographer to find a rhyme. Will keep thinking,” he started. After that, he was away with the Faeries…

“By the way, as an hispanophile yourself, did u know that ‘orange’ is actually a mispronunciation of the Spanish ‘naranja’, which is the word for the fruit.

Billy knew Stuart studied languages at Oxford so he thought it was a shame that such a scholar would put the word an before hispanophile. He wasn’t that thrilled at being dubbed one, either. He liked going to Spain for his holidays… does that make him a hispanophile? Stuart continued, as if someone was actually listening…

“Which makes sense, as that’s where they were grown. In this country, they were known as noranges for a long time…”

Billy tried to steer him in a different direction, but failed and ended up confessing that he always worried about that j in Spanish words like naranja. How hard and guttural are you meant to make it? If you sound like you’re coughing phlegm, is that too much?

No way, Stuart said in reply. Coughing phlegm is a compliment to any self-respecting Spaniard: “Covering your host’s evening suit or gown in the stuff is even better.” He then suggested Billy test his phlegm on some “bocadillos de jamon“.

Once again, Billy tried to move Stuart in another direction: “Is naranja the colour orange, too?” Stuart’s answer was refreshingly terse: “Si, lo mismo. Siempre lo mismo.”

More short stories.

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