By Tina Blue
November 24, 2002
As a college literature teacher, I am enamored of wordplay. I just love a clever pun. What I love even more is when in all innocence someone who cannot possibly understand what he or she has accomplished creates a charming play on words.
When my daughter Becky was just four years old she produced a pun that would have made Shakespeare proud.
At the time, both of my kids were delighted whenever I cooked Cornish game hens for dinner. There was something about the miniaturization of a familiar food and about each kid having his or her own complete chicken to dive into that absolutely enchanted them.
I had told them that these "tiny chickens," as Michael referred to them, were actually called Cornish game hens, but that is rather a nonintuitive label for what really does look like a little chicken. When an adult hears "game" in the context of a food bird, he will think in terms of sport hunting. But a small child has no such frame of reference. To her, "game" simply means something a child plays.
As Becky's fifth birthday approached, I asked her what special meal she would like to have for dinner on that day. She knew exactly what she wanted. "Mommy, she asked, "would you cook up some of those toy chickens?"