Leonso somehow convinced the Kleberg County commissioners to unanimously designate "heaven-o" as the county's official greeting. The reason: "hello" contains the word "hell."
"When you go to school and church, they tell you 'hell' is negative and 'heaven' is positive,'" said the 56-year-old Canales, who owns the Kingsville Flea Market. "I think it's time that we set a new precedent, to tell our kids that we are positive adults."
The new salutation, according to the county resolution, is a "symbol of peace, friendship and welcome" in this "age of anxiety." And, in my opinion, opening them up to mocking and ridicule. I wonder out loud how dangerous this [potentially] is, and what sort of theocracy precedent the folks in Kleberg have unwittingly set up.
Courthouse employees are already answering the phones, "heaven-o." And the chamber of commerce was working on a campaign promoting Kingsville, a Rio Grande Valley town of 25,000, as a "heavenly" place to visit. You have to ask, what kind of people they're really going to attract, and the type of people who will be repelled.
"People seem to think that it might catch on," said county Judge Pete De La Garza. Sure, Pete. Aren't you a Judge?
Madolyn Musick, who runs the town bookstore - and therefore the voice of all the opposition and atheism representative, insisted, and linguists would agree, that "hello" has nothing to do with "hell." Besides, she added, "What's wrong with, 'Howdy, y'all?'" Well, maybe they can get Janeane Garofalo to play her in the Lifetime TV Movie of the week?
But back to the main character, Canales, a Catholic but not a regular churchgoer, has been as serious as heck about "hello" since 1988, when he told his brother he might start greeting people with "God-o." His brother suggested "heaven-o" instead. Wow.
David Sabrio, a professor of English at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, noted that the Oxford English Dictionary says "hello" stems from an old German greeting for hailing a boat.
"Linguistically and historically, the word 'hello' has no connection at all with what we associate with the underworld," he said. "People may make that connection in their own mind. I certainly don't."
Me? I feel sorry for Hello Kitty - who's going to have to be killed to become an angel, and will forever be known as Heaven-o Kitty.
What's really got me upset is that no one seems to think, or even bother to notice, that there is an obvious violation of the separation of church and state that was voted on by the County Board. If the Canales Brothers want to speak to everyone in tongues, God Bless - pass the ammo, boys. But to force the County to do so as well, heck, that's downright un-American, right there.
Sounds like the kind of thing they're trying to do in... the Swat region of Pakistan?