Monday, June 1, 2015

pick your own, single, solve-all word

I can't remember exactly why, but when I was a kid there were all sorts of encouragements -- bits of advice meant to mold and nourish something more adult -- and among them was the notion that a bigger vocabulary was a good thing, a more adult thing. Why, was never precisely explained in terms a kid could get his head around, but if adults said it was true, it must be true: Adults were the ones who could make you eat Brussels sprouts and hence not forces that could be ignored.

"Use a word ten times in a day and it is yours." And making words yours was what adults did and every kid, in a variety of ways, wanted to be adult ... if only to evade the eating of Brussels sprouts.

Over time, the words accumulated like charms on a bracelet. They were, perhaps, like the much-exercised washboard abs of another anointed gathering. They could be soothing, controlling, defensive, manipulative, delightful, 'perfect,' loving, acidic, comprehensible, incomprehensible ... a foil against the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" or the icing on the cake.

A man or woman with a vocabulary could be considered "cultured," though what that meant and how it might dull the thorns or enhance the joy ... well, there were still Brussels sprouts to attend to one way or another. By the time anyone found out that words had power but that the power was never great enough to solve or salve the universe ... well, the bracelet was made, the habit attained ... even as the uselessness vied with some pretty good uses.

Today and rainy and raw and as I sat on the porch waiting for body and mind to disentangle what had shortly before been sleep, I thought perhaps I would choose a single word -- just one word -- that would suffice for all the uses that words might promise but never quite deliver ... something that would, all by itself, suit me down to the ground ... at least for the moment. I figure anyone can play the same game ... just picking one word to stick in your back pocket like a wallet ... no need to tack on other words, other attempts to control and defend, other expressions of height or depth, other ... fucking ... improvements.

And the sunshine-y word that I chose to choose on this raw and rainy day was

Just because it's raining doesn't mean the sun can't shine.

A serious giggle.

Birth ... death ... and a giggle.

Trying to control and parry takes more effort than it yields satisfactory result.

Others will choose other words, words that seem freighted to me even as my choice may seem indiscreet and wise-ass to them. For example, I can fairly smell the word "love" crouching like some mountain lion eying an unwary doe. Oh well....

My closest guess to a universal solvent (at least for the moment) is "tallywacker." I love its sunshine sauciness; a word that makes me smile all by itself; a dancing and unblushing word; a word that teases with seriousness: "If you're going down, go down with a smile on your face."

It solves nothing, but it's fun ... just like the rest of my vocabulary.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, memories overwhelm like an avalanche. I understand it's derived from an obsolescent tallywag associated with a Devonshire of many centuries ago. And i was given to understand that because a lot of the education available to the folks of the Ozark mountains came from the King James bible, they spoke the closest to the kings english surviving today, pronunciation, inflections, etc. And so i was given to understand in my youth, not to use the word as it would reveal my humble origins. And so now it's out, i'm a hillbilly by birth, ornery by inclination.