Either/Or (or, “Terri Wins”)

Yesterday evening before I left work, Terri and I decided to meet for dinner at Johnny D’s. On the train I thought of a game to play over dinner, which I decided to call the either/or game. I would ask Terri either/or questions, and she’d have to pick one. I got there before she did, so I got the first “either/or” of the night, from the guy at the door: “are you staying for the show or just for dinner?” (Just dinner). I waited at the bar and eavesdropped on a bunch of good conversations between the bartenders and a couple of patrons (who also seemed to be fellow Johnny D’s coworkers and/or girlfriends who were hanging out on an off day). One of these conversations was another either/or conversation: who was hotter, the Celtics cheerleaders or the Patriots cheerleaders? (no consensus was reached).

Here are the highlights of my Either/Or questions for Terri:
“red or blue”? (declined)
“John Coltrane or Miles Davis?” (declined)
“The Specials or The English Beat?” (The Specials)
“Laurel or Hardy?” (Laurel)
“Booker T. Washington or W.E.B. Dubois?” (Booker T.)
“Greeks or Romans?” (Greeks)
“Beethoven or Mozart?” (Mozart! I can’t believe I married a Mozart-over-Beethoven!)

Terri asked me a bunch, too.
“Imperial or Parkay?” (Parkay)
“Mary Tyler Moore before or after Georgette?” (before)
“Empire Strikes Back or Star Wars?” (Empire, too easy)
“Mr. Ferley or Mr. Roper?” (Mr. Ferley, but if it were both of the Ropers as a unit, the Ropers).

The show started, and we asked for the check. As we were paying up, we exchanged pleasantries with Willie (the former Someday baristo (baristo?) who now waits tables at Johnny D’s). The opening band (violin, guitar, upright bass, female vocals) started off with “Love for Sale” (“Cole Porter or Rogers and Hart?” (ummmm, what did Rogers and Hart do again?…. besides “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”, I couldn’t name a song on demand!). I was almost tempted to stay, but then their second song was kind of a crappy country-sounding thing, and we left.

As we were heading home up Holland Street in the cold, I asked Terri, “Woodstock or Altamont?” She answered, “Monterey”. She totally won! She also thereby confirmed that I married the right girl.

3 thoughts on “Either/Or (or, “Terri Wins”)”

  1. A sweet tale.

    Anyhow, it’s “barista”, even if the referent is a man. The Spanish/Italian/Portuguese suffix -ista, like French -iste (and English -ist, for that matter), descends from the Latin masculine suffix -ista, which is a slightly adapted borrowing of the Greek masculine suffix -istes.

    Although “-ista” looks feminine in Latin and the descendant languages, it is not, and it doesn’t participate in the “-o masculine, -a feminine” alternation typical of the Romance languages. (In French, sound changes made the alternation “zero masculine, -e feminine” when all final vowels except -a were lost, as in French “cousin” vs. “cousine”.)

    My guess would be that “fashionista” was the first of the “-ista” words created in English, and the fact that most fashionistas are women, plus the -o/-a alternation, pulls people toward thinking that “barista” can only refer to women as well. But it is in fact a direct borrowing from Italian, and arose in that language because “bar” (originally a borrowing from English) was specialized to mean “coffee bar.”

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