“Santa,” asked Alison, “how can someone use one word to mean two different things?”
“Alison,” asked Santa in reply, “well, who exactly do you mean by someone? Do you mean you in particular? Do you mean me in particular? Or do you mean any one of us?”
Alison asked Santa in reply, “no, because I think that you do not understand my question, do you? What I am asking is how can we refer to two different things with the exact same words? For instance, if someone uses the word ‘we’ then do they mean just the two people of Santa and Alison or… and this is where it gets really tricky, do they actually not mean either of us?”
Santa asked Alison,”well, could you think of it in the following way? If someone- and I am not going to say exactly who- but if someone is sitting on something, then what would you call the thing that they are sitting on?”
Alison said, “do you mean like a chair?”
Santa said, “well it could be a chair, yes, but what if they were not sitting on a chair, but were sitting on some furniture?”
“No,” said Alison, “because a chair is a type of furniture, so if someone is sitting on furniture, then that means they must be sitting on a chair! That is so obvious. For example, when I think of some furniture right now, I am thinking of a chair, so therefore someone who says furniture must mean whatever I think they mean, right?”
“Or you could be sitting on my lap,” said Santa. “What about that?”
“No, thank you very much, but I prefer furniture,” said Alison.
“What about a couch?” asked Santa.
“No, furniture will do just fine,” said Alison.
“But isn’t a couch a type of furniture?” Santa asked Alison.
“Santa,” asked Alison, “are you trying to confuse me for someone else? Anyway, when are we going to stop sitting around on our butts all day and do something?”
“Alison,” asked Santa, “does someone need a nap? Or maybe someone needs a spanking! I think that someone like you needs to watch their language.”
“No, I do not,” said Alison, “because I do not even have a watch. I want one, though, and I told you that I wanted one for a gift, but you, Santa, did not get me what I wanted, did you? Were you just trying to make me mad? And now you won’t even tell me how one word can mean two things, like when someone else says that.”
Santa said nothing. Santa just sat there on his furniture and said… well, nothing at all!
“Furthermore,” Alison continued, “I do not know why you keep talking about someone’s language. I do not even know what that word means. I am sure that I do not have a language because if I did, don’t you think that I would know by now? So, Santa, maybe I do not need to watch my language because clearly you did not even give me one of those either. How can I watch what I do not have? Oh, and that reminds me that I really just need a watch. So, you know watch use should do, Santa? You should do watch use should not do, that’s what! Ha! That was a joke. Yeah, why don’t you try that one on for size, you big bully?”
Santa just kept sitting there. Maybe he fell asleep or something. Can someone really fall asleep that is sitting up?
Anyway, Alison apparently took his silence as a clear sign of his immense interest in what she was saying, so she elaborated further: “All you do is bribe me with promises of rewards and threats of future punishment, like eternal damnation in hell. So, anyway, what is this? Is this supposed to be like some kind of a church? Is this a courtroom, Santa? Is it? Does it look like a courtroom? Or, are you a politician on campaign? Do you want some donations to your reform movement? Are you trying to sell me on salvation or what, because I am not falling for your tricky little words, Santa. I’m watching you. Do you hear me? Do you? I am watching you like a hawk! Like a mother fussing hawk!”
“Santa, don’t make me come over there. You always ask stupid questions like whether a couch could be furniture when I know good and well that this specific time when I say furniture, I mean chair, not couch. You arrogant fools really deserve to be punched in the hat. You suck at communicating. You communicate like a vacuum cleaner. That means you totally suck at it. Do you see what I am saying? Do you? Yes or no: just answer this one simple question! No, wait, not yet! Close your mouth. It is still my turn to talk. When it is your turn, I will tell you. Is that clear? Do you understand me? Do you? Do you or don’t you? Yes or no?”
“No, do not even try to communicate because I will threaten to punish you in the future if you do that. Don’t communicate; instead, just nod your head to show whether your answer is yes or what. Oh, and, by the way, before you even say what I imagine that you might be about to say, let me tell you this: no, I think it is you who does not understand. What I am saying is that you just do not understand me. And I tell you what, no joking, Santa: why do you always have to frustrate me? I don’t understand it at all. How much? Not enough! Not at all! Not even some. Or not even any- either one will do.”