It was more floating like a butterfly than stinging like a bee earlier this month when Mayor Marion Barry returned from his economic summit in Africa to answer questions from Washington’s ever-penetrating press corps. Barry’s verbal agility sparkled anew as he parried critics who allege he abandoned a city that was short on money and long on trash. For those unschooled in Barry Speak, here’s a handy interpretation of his answers.

Barry Says/ Translation

“We want to accentuate the positive and decentuate the negative,” he said, presenting a $1,000 check to Skylar Byrd, the Banneker High School student who scored 1600 on her SATs.

I had a good trip; don’t start any shit.

“A crisis is something out of control that you have no ability to bring under control; things are a mess.”

You don’t know crisis. Marion Barry knows crisis.

“We’ve been consistent with the numbers and with our efforts to reduce the deficit.” We stuck to the first tale we told and we continue to beg the feds relentlessly.

“I’m opposed to [school] vouchers; on the other hand, I said I would be willing to try it at 5 or 10 percent scale; that’s how we’re going to work things out.”

I don’t like this crap either, but the boys on the Hill say no vouchers, no money.

“I’m not going to get involved in every little thing that happens in the city.”

I’ll take credit for everything, responsibility for nothing.