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Flight kying? It's a tip of the slongue

I accepted their invitation to "loo dunch," and now I'm sitting with Hamer and Betty Jo Reiser at the "Led Robster," debating between the "crimp" or the "shrab" and wondering when the "bot and huttered" rolls are going to show up.

Not that we're in any hurry. It will take at least two hours to go through the list that Hamer has compiled of his wife's spoonerisms.

If you don't know what a spoonerism is, then you obviously haven't met Betty Jo. She's famous for saying things like "orchicot apards" instead of apricot orchards, and "man bruffins" instead of bran muffins. She once noted that a woman was standing there "bare stake narked," and she occasionally invites her grandchildren to join her for "homely fam evening."

"There's never a dull gathering when Betty Jo is around," says Hamer, 77, a retired doctor who has been amused by his wife's "tip of the slongue" remarks since their "dedding way" 54 years ago.

It was Hamer who suggested we get together for a Free Lunch to share the story of Betty Jo's unique speech patterns, which are named after the late English Rev. William Archibald Spooner. He was well known for unintentionally interchanging sounds back in the late 1800s.

Betty Jo, 75, was good-natured enough to tag along with her husband for lunch but warned me not to expect to hear a string of funny spoonerisms.

"They've always happened spontaneously," she says. "If I try to give one, it just won't happen. I can go weeks without a spoonerism, then, bam! They'll suddenly start slipping out. And I have no idea why."

Hamer thinks he knows why "tree-lined streets" suddenly become "stree-lined treats" and everyone on the freeway is "expeeding the seed limit."

"Betty Jo is very bright and alert," he says. "She thinks faster than she speaks and usually isn't even aware that she's delivered a spoonerism. While lots of people will occasionally let one out, nobody does it with the numerical superiority of Betty Jo. She's amazing."

Indeed, Betty Jo has delighted her husband with her mixed-up expressions since they met while working at LDS Hospital in 1945. Hamer, an intern at the time, requested a nurse's help to hook a patient to an IV. When Betty Jo showed up, he was smitten, especially when she mentioned that one of her classmates was a "surping nooservisor" (a nursing supervisor).

While growing up, Betty Jo's three sons were regularly entertained by their mother's offers of "aiken and beggs" for breakfast, "keys churd" (cheese curd) for snacks and "solish possage" (Polish sausage) or "jender and toosy" steaks for dinner.

Betty Jo fetched the boys "wottles of botter" when they were thirsty, took them to the park on good "flight kying" days, and urged them to complete their daily Bible "ripture screeding" and find jobs that provided "omple apportunity."

Today, when family and friends show up for gatherings such as "Danksgiving Thinner," everyone is on alert for Betty Jo to start dishing out spoonerisms.

"When one slips out, everyone applauds," says Hamer. "I remember the day she announced it was time to have the 'rain painters gutted.' What she really meant was that it was time to have the rain gutters painted."

Recently, Hamer put together a lexicon of his wife's best spoonerisms on his computer. When he ran the list through the spell checker, "the computer

whirred and whirred and about had a stroke," he says. "I finally put it out of its misery and shut it off."

Betty Jo looks up from her "crimp shombo" plate and laughs. "Hamer likes to say that I'm the only person who can spoonerism a spoonerism," she says.

"I remember once I said the bread was 'breshly faked.'" She pauses and smiles. "Of course, what I really meant was, it was 'brakely feshed.'"

Sounds good to us, Jetty Bo.


Have a story? Let's do lunch. E-mail your name, phone number and what's on your mind to freelunch@desnews.com or send a fax to 466-2851. You can also write me at the Deseret News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.