Another "$100 Misunderstanding" (1)

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Fri Aug 13 12:43:03 UTC 2004

For approximately the first quarter-century of my life, I labored under
the misapprehension that the principal parts of the verb "shit" were
"shit, shitted, shitted" and nothing else. For example, my ace boon
coon was given the Hell-Week nickname, "Dog Bird-Shitted-On," because a
bird had, in fact, shitted on him. When I first heard a white
barracks-mate use "shit, shat, shat," I felt that he was just joking,
given that the guy was from Harvard. Naturally, a person who was not
only an Ivy-Leaguer, but also a graduate of Harvard College, would
naturally be familiar with the correct forms of a trivial, but
well-known, verb like "shit." as a matter of course. In any case, I
found the form "shat" to be so ridiculous as to be hip. In fact, I took
to using "shat" myself, just for the humor of it.

Imagine the shock when I eventually discovered that the form "shat" was
not only genuine, but had also *been* genuine for centuries! I'd
thought that it was merely a nonce form invented on the spot by my
barracks-mate in a moment of whimsy!

I guess that what one should take from this is that one should never
underestimate the power of Jim Crow.

-Wilson Gray.

(1) For younger readers, I should point out that a novel with the
title, "One-Hundred-Dollar-Misunderstanding," once enjoyed great
notoriety. -WG

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