A Preface Regarding Relatives and Insects
I suppose you can't really have a preface in the middle of a work. But I feel the sudden and immediate need to explain the nomenclature I will presently be using to refer to my aunt in the ensuing narratives.
When I turned five, my friend Mark scoffed at me because I still called my parents "Mommy" and "Daddy," names which he said, with great authority, were baby-talk. We were five-year-olds now, and far beyond the need to add diminuitive endings. Please!
I remember feeling rebuffed and very insecure about that for months--maybe even years--afterwards. These days I typically call my parents "Mom" and "Dad," only occasionally reverting to the more "babyish" terms. However, I still call all my aunts "auntie." I can't get rid of it. They probably wish I would, and sometimes I wish I would, which is why I feel constrained to defend it now. I think a lot of it is habit. For example, even though my high school band teacher told me after I graduated that I could call him "Franz," I still find it easier to refer to him as "Mr Kuder." And it remains a struggle for me to refer to my college faculty advisor as "Kent" instead of "Dr Gramm," even though I used to visit with him and his wife casually when they would come over to England with an entourage of undergrads.
There are other reasons for my use of the word auntie, though. I think it has to do with auditory asthetics. I hail from a region of the country where aunt rhymes with words like gaunt and flaunt and taunt. There is, after all, a u in it. To this day I fail to see any good reason for talking about the sisters of one's parents as if they were small black or red insects which most people pay money to exterminate. (Then again, maybe it's because all my aunts are very very cool.) Let it be known here, moreover, that if and when my brother and esteemed midwestern sister-in-law have children, said children are welcome to call Peggy and Kelly "Ant," if these women so desire it, but let's have none of this talk of my being called "Ant Jenn."
But the thing about the pronunciation of, er, that word, is that it affects how the following name sounds, too. For example, "Ant Susan," if you were going to call her that, sounds "better" than "Antie Susan." But to me, "Aunt Susan" sounds funny, too--incomplete, as it were. I don't know what it is--maybe just subjective--but to me the name has a better flow as "Auntie Susan."
That is all a very long way of saying that in future posts about Costa Rica, I will be referring to my Costa Rican aunt as "Auntie Susan," and I hope nobody scoffs.