What's "The Kevinator," you ask? Well, if The Revelator, The Foodinator and The Opinionator go on vacation, and Kevin happens to send in an article that coincides with said vacation, voila! The Kevinator!
Anywho, we'll stop interrupting this intriguing article so you can continue reading about Kevin's literal interpretation of everyday signs.
"Signs, signs, everywhere there are signs. Blocking up the scenery, breaking my mind. Do this, don't do that can't you read the signs?"
With this, and humble apologies to The Five Man Electrical Band for paraphrasing their one-hit-wonder, I present to you some literal translations of real signs in the Concord area. Now, when taken at face value and without a lot of thought given to their meaning, these signs are pretty straightforward and innocuous. But when read with literal interpretation, they can be insidious and downright funny to read and ponder.
The fascination I have with literal translations stems back to my childhood days, when I was without much metacognitive ability and contexts in which to place certain phrases and words. With my limited world knowledge, hearing such words would conjure up images that are still fresh in my mind to this day. Words like "finger sandwiches," "ratatouille" and "puu-puu platters" had me afraid to try new foods. Why on earth would anybody want to eat things with either rats or fingers in them? And, well, a puu-puu platter? That was beyond disgusting to the thinking of an 8-year-old! Still, they were funny to say and think about, and left me with the indelible mind-pictures of literal interpretation.
Later on, two very distinct signs fueled my budding interest with literal interpretation. These were: "self-storage" and the ubiquitous "Eat Here and Get Gas."
Again, I couldn't grasp why anyone would want to stand in a self-storage container, unless they were using it as a fort, and as for "Eat Here and Get Gas," it was my brother's explanation that brought the hilarity of this sign to my overly fertile and easily duped young mind. This picture was all too vivid and hilarious to let go and not pass on to my friends, family and all and sundry others with whom I came into contact.
I should have stopped there. But didn't.
I kept noticing such signs throughout my life. The most obvious was at a local convenience store that read: "Open 24 hours," with a small sign underneath that said "closed from 1 to 2 for lunch." Apparently, the "open 24 hours" did not mean a consecutive 24 hours. And, as the comedian Steven Wright so aptly stated it, "We're open 24 hours, but not in a row."
When I moved to Minneapolis, there were three blaring signs that made me stop in my tracks and say to myself, "Kevin, those really can't mean what you think they mean." They were: "Take Out to Go," "The House of Large Sizes is having a Tent Sale," and, my favorite, posted at Central Lutheran Church during the Christmas Season, "The Messiah! Two Nights Only, Get Your Tickets Now to see the Messiah."
Yep, the signs are there. And here in Concord, they are plentiful if you just look around.
As you head south on I-89 coming in to Bow, you'll notice a sign that reads "Bow" with an arrow underneath it. This was pointed out to me by my sister. It was so obvious that even I didn't recognize it.
Just a quarter-mile down 89 at the junction of 93 North, there's another great sign that reads, "Concord Seacoast." In all my years of living in Concord, I have yet to find the Concord Seacoast. Hope there's a public beach, though.
In Penacook, on Electric Ave., there's a sign that says "No Outlet." I imagine that most of the residents on that street are perpetually angry with their electric company for not providing them the most obvious conveyance, and yet bragging about not doing so.
Goodale's Bike shop offered a sign this summer and fall that advertised "Spin Class." I can only imagine the number of politicians and talking heads flocking to this class! It seemed to work during the recent elections, though, so apparently someone benefited.
Down at the Everett Arena, there's a sign offering "Stick Training." Having read that the stick is now officially considered a toy, this only makes sense! Why not teach children how to turn the lowly stick into a sword, staff, wand or baton and charge for it! At least this is the kind of stick training I imagine - could be something else altogether.
The Holiday Inn had a sign just recently that read, "Welcome New Hampshire Federation of the Blind Members," while at the intersection of North State and North Main streets, there's a sign offering directions to the NH Association of the Blind. It says, "NH Association of the Blind, Next Right." I never saw a visually impaired person reading it. Don't know why. And not wanting to offend the visually impaired, it would be interesting to see an individual with a red-tipped cane going over the letters in the sign, and then walking off in the correct direction.
At the American Brake Service Station on Loudon Road, in its parking lot, there's a sign that says "ABS Parking Only." Deltoids, biceps and triceps are apparently not allowed here! Talk of overt muscle discrimination practices!
At the Planet Fitness parking lot on Fort Eddy Road, it's easy to get yourself towed. The sign says so. Your car won't get towed, you will. It reads, "Violators will be towed." Doesn't say anything about towing your car. I'd pay to see some tow-truck operator attach the tow hook to someone's jacket and tow them to the impound lot. Unless it was me, of course. Then I'd argue re-interpreting the sign.
On many side streets in the metro Concord area, you will find traffic signs that have a big "P" in the middle with a red circle around them and a line bisecting the circle. Under this, there is usually the disclaimer, "This Side of Street." I take that to mean that public urination isn't allowed on that side of the street. I could be wrong about this, but I'm not sure.
Anyone can find signs that allow patient or reserved parking. I guess if you're an outgoing individual with a sense of urgency to get somewhere, you're not able to park there.
Just north of Concord, near the Penacook/Boscawen town line, there's an antique shop. Or there was, anyway. There was a sign in the window that read, "We buy old furniture." So let me get this straight - once they have your old furniture, they put a high price tag on it and it magically becomes an antique? That's my kind of business!
The Concord schoolbuses have the words "Pupil Transportation" written on the sides. Put in some holographic eyes in the windows - you know, the kind that seem to open and close when you look at them - and then watch the passersby stare!
And finally, there's a grocery store in town that advertises "Cans for Kids." If you are an open minded person, this can be interpreted a variety of ways: 1. You can trade in some cans and get some kids. 2. You can trade in your kids for some cans. Or 3. You can get your kids some new cans.
So you see, the signs are all around you. You just have to have the imagination (and too much time on your hands) to interpret them to your way of thinking.