All right, it’s high time I put this one up for all y’all to see.
Is you all ready for a lesson on pronunciation? Wahl, then buckle up! All joking aside, I was out for what turned out to be an all-day hike with my future wife, Debbie, whom I had known for only two months at the time and who I discovered was descended from a long line of . . . well, hillbillies, I guess is the proper term. So you see, every time she pronounced the word “creek,” she said it as if it rhymed with “sick” or “wick”. Now, as I thought perhaps this beautiful young lady and I might actually end up together for the long-term, this was not something I could stomach or abide for long. See, I grew up pronouncing things the way they are spelled, and the sound of “crick” to me was far worse than fingernails running down a chalkboard. And so I began to bring up all the words I could think of that should have a long “E” sound, and how they would sound if everyone should follow the strange rule of “creek” and “crick.” The result, as it turned out the next day, after recovering from our 18-mile hike (which was originally supposed to be about 8, I should add) was this poem. Enjoy! Oh–and if you are one of those who is guilty of the sin of pronouncing the long E sound of “creek” with the soft “i” sound of pick, I hope you will take this lighthearted lesson to heart!
Note: Make sure as you read to pay attention to all of the italicized words, which as you will soon pick up on, should all be pronounced with a long “E” rather than as they are spelled in the poem.
“Down on the Crick”
There’s a little word I hear around that needs an explanation;
I have a feeling there’s no place for it in grand oration.
Now listen to me very close and see if you agree;
By the way it’s spelled, it’s not quite said the way it ought to be.
If you’ll sit there for a while, I’ll teach to you a lesson;
And if you’re guilty of this crime, I hope you’ll be confessin’:
The simple word I’m speaking of I hear pronounced as crick;
But it’s not spelled that way, and I’d like to know the trick.
This word should have a long E sound, like bee or tree or beagle;
Can pronouncing such a word as “crick” somehow be illegal?
I guess if it’s tradition, to call a “creek” a “crick”,
I’ll go become a vagabond, living on Pike’s Pick.
Or I’ll become a shipherder, guarding ship along the hill;
Or sick my fortune in the mines, which a wick man never will.
And if someday I’m lucky, a pretty girl I’ll mit,
And she’ll fold up my underwear so very nice and nit.
And we’ll buy us a great big farm, if they’ll give us a good dill;
Then I’ll have all I ever want without the need to still.
I’ll plant my whit out in the field, and what I sow I’ll rip;
So I can go and buy another couple thousand ship.
We’ll take those ship, so soft and fat, and also very mick,
And shave the wool right off their backs, forgetting how they rick.
’Cause smell don’t bother me at all, when my fortune I am sicking;
I’ll have chickens with their bicks plumb full, and my luck will still be picking.
My best friend’s named Ezekial, but we just call him Zick;
The other day I caught him in the john, about to take a lick.
I was so embarrassed, I ran right to my bed,
I jumped right in and pulled the dirty sh— whoops! blankets over my head.
And this morning I was standing here, frying some eggs in griss,
When my wife comes in, tired of fighting, wanting to make p— uh, make a truce.
Then we decided to shear our ship, and go into town with their fliss,
And sell it off, then go to the bank, so we could pay our liss.
Well, there’s not much more to say I s’pose—you’ve got my drift by now;
I nid to get back to the barn and milk that bawling cow.
Now go and think on this a mite—take six days . . . or a wick—
Then tell me how you say it—is it creek or is it crick?
—Kirby Jonas June 1, 1995
Above are the kind of faces I invariably expect to see when I hear someone pronouncing the word “creek” with a soft “i” sound.
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