Fun with Words: Cafegymatorium

It seems that a new cost and space-saving trend has developed in school buildings, and it is called the “Multi-Purpose Room.” This space is usually part auditorium, part cafeteria. It is used for gatherings such as concerts and plays, as well as serving as the lunch room for the kids during the day. The “proper” name for such a room is “Auditeria” or “Cafetorium.” And my former middle school and high school now have one of these rooms in each building.

So popular is this trend in modern scholastic-architecture that it was recently mentioned on an episode of The Simpsons. Lisa Simpson was differentiating a “good” school and a “bad” school, by whether or not the facility had separate auditoriums and cafeterias. She excitedly exclaimed of her new (better) school: “… And the cafeteria and auditorium are actually in separate rooms!!!”

With a mother and father both employed by the schools and six nieces and nephews in the system, I love to tease them about this current Cafegymatorium-Craze. (Technically cafegymatorium is not the correct terminology, but I like to call it “cafegymatorium” because it sounds funnier to me and it annoys them).

In an exchange with my mom this past summer, I had some fun with word-play that prompted a few more potential names for such Multi-Purpose Rooms. How about: Cafegymatoriumeria? Or Cafegymetoriasium? Or Audigymaterianasium?

When my mother finally got fed up with my non-stop harrassment she said: “STOP the madness! I agree that this has gotten totally out of hand! We do have a cafetorium. OR an auditeria, depending on which you think is more important: eating or performing. I know some kids who definitely perform while they are eating. It is amazing to behold.”

My mom’s plea for me to stop led me to wonder (aloud of course): What do you call a kid who performs while he or she is eating? Would they be considered an Eator? Or maybe a Thesbavore? Or perhaps, my personal favorite: a Fooctor?

As of this writing, I have received no official answer on the matter.


Look-a-Like Towns

I grew up in Minerva, Ohio. It is a small town (technically a village) and is situated on US Route 30. Along Rt. 30 there are many other little towns that look quite similar. They typically have a Dairy Queen or dairy bar, a few banks, some churches, a park or two, perhaps a red brick school with a playground and of course, houses that resemble those in and around Minerva. To a small child who lives there, these other little “burgs” probably look very much like home to them.

Such was the case with my youngest niece, Juliann, my sister’s daughter. She is now 13 and would probably hate that I’m telling stories about her as she is at “that age” — you know, the age where you can get the death stare AND a bear hug all within the span of 5 minutes. Anyway, I’m willing to take the risk.

One glorious, fall afternoon my parents decided to take little Juliann with them for a ride in the country. She was about 4 or 5 at the time. They have a Jeep Wrangler and it was the perfect kind of day for leaving the top off, loading up their granddaughter and Sadie (their golden retriever) and heading out.

As is popular to do in this region of the country that time of year, they planned on doing some “leaf peeping.” They drove around for hours on country roads gazing at the stunning fall foliage and soaking up us much of the color and warm sunshine that they could before winter crept in. And although I can’t say for certain, I’ll bet they stopped at one of those dairy bars and had a hotdog and an ice-cream cone or sundae on their autumn adventure.

Coming home, they drove through several small towns near and along Rt. 30 and as they passed through each one, my dad would hear a tiny little voice from directly behind him in the backseat utter the question: “Are we in Minerva NOW, grandpa?” Dad would answer: “No, not yet Juliann, this is… <insert name of aforementioned look-a-like burg here>… but we will be soon.”

Somewhere along the way, as kids do after a day in the sun and wind and with a tummy full of ice cream, Juliann fell asleep. When she awoke they were FINALLY driving through Minerva. My dad, assuming that she would be very excited to be home at last, asked her: “Where are you NOW, Juliann?” 
And her answer was priceless…

“I’m right BEHIND you, grandpa!”


This is Wrigley. Otherwise known as Wriggles, Wrigleyville or Mr. Wriggles. And this is his story.

Not long after my friend Jan got married and bought a house, she and her hubby—like many young couples—began to feel a growing void. As is typical with most newlyweds who put down roots and establish a home together, the need for “something more” takes a hold of them and they, in turn, take a trip to the local pet store.

Many sleepless nights, soiled and tattered towels, destroyed shoes, half-chewed squeaky toys and bottles of carpet cleaner later… they settle in with their newest addition and deem their squirmy little puppy the King of the Castle… Lord of the Manor… and Love of Their Lives.

They honestly don’t know how they ever got along without this furry bundle of joy and he becomes the center of their world… their baby. He is regularly walked, obscenely spoiled with designer toys and gourmet treats and taken to “Doggie Daycare” or the grandparents’ homes when mummy and daddy are away.

Fast-forward a couple of years. Biology has worked its magic and now there is a new sheriff in town. That’s right, folks. Procreation has occurred. You know the good ol’ perpetuation of the species and all that crap. A tiny new bundle has entered the home and nothing is ever the same. This one is hairless and cries constantly and unlike the furry variety, it seems to demand much, MUCH more attention.

And suddenly, without warning, the former King of the Castle is literally cast aside in order to make room. Chew toys, tug-of-war ropes and tennis balls are shoved into dark, dusty corners to make way for pack-n-plays, bouncy-chairs and activity mats.

Excuse me... Where are all of MY toys?

Zero sleep and constant feedings and changings have made mummy and daddy rather cranky and impatient and rendered the notion of a daily walk or a game of catch virtually impossible. Life feels as though it will never return to normal.

UGH. I personally don't see what all the fuss is about. I'm WAY cuter than she is. Aren't I?

I’ve seen Wrigley’s story play out time and time again as my friends have done their reproductive duty and multiplied. The animal—once so adored—has now become an object of scorn and frustration. During a recent visit to meet the newest human addition to my friend’s family, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Wrigley (I personally like to call him Mr. Wriggles). Me being a perplexed, non-parent, I asked my friend how it was possible for them “hate” their once-cherished pet.

“He’s annoying. He jumps too much, barks too loud and begs mercilessly for attention. We worry constantly that he’s going to wake the baby. He is just one more thing for us to deal with. Now that we have 2 kids, it feels like we actually have 3.” She answered.

At least she was honest.

They admitted to giving some consideration to the thought of handing Wrigley over to a neighboring family who could offer him more attention—but being the sometimes-optimist that I am—I see their oldest, Brady, approaching 3 and I believe that perhaps Mr. Wriggles will soon get back his throne. Maybe he will become King … (OK that’s reaching) make that Prince of Brady’s world. And before long, there will be someone to take walks and play catch with once again.

Um... Are you old enough to take me for a walk yet?