Hardy Plumbing
February 09, 2011

It's Only Words


I have been, over the course of my life, hip, hep, cool ("Cool, Daddy-O" as the beatniks and poets would say) and also cool as in "Cool, Dude" as they said in the sixties. I've been groovy (I admit it) and even nifty. I have been neat, neat-o, boss, and rad. I've been up to it, and down with it. I've gotten jiggy wit it many times, albeit usually with myself. I've been amped, crunked up, and I admit in a moment of candor, grody. But no one who has seen my wardrobe would argue that I am indeed chic.

I've been in the forefront, the front line, and the new wave; I've had your back and been right behind you. I tweak, twit and thwack (that's the sound of a clean jump shot going through the nets). I've done the Hanky-Panky, Twist, Peppermint Twist (yes, there is a difference), Mash, Monster Mash, Mosh -- I also nosh -- Macerena, Shimmy, the Shimmy Shake, the Slide, the Mambo, Limbo, and, god forgive me, the Cha-Cha.

I've smoked Big Reds, butts, bogies, joes, fags, sticks, and rollies, and not to mention weed, dope, grass, ganja, Mary Jane, pot, herb, dope, and kind, and probably more cow dung from Turkey than I care to admit to.

It all proves that over time words take on new meanings, as often chronicled by William Safire, the erudite "On Language" columnist of the New York Times Magazine who died in 2009 after 30 years of great columns.

I like to read the dictionary and pick out odd sounding words. I used to do this a lot when we played Scrabble back in college -- ok, I ran with a nerdy bunch. Another Scrabble player would challenge the word and I'd end up getting double-word score. For example, uvula, masticate, and dongle are perfectly normal words, but most folks don't know what they mean, or that they even exist.

While doing research for a column I wrote (yes, these things require research) I discovered surfer lingo is rife with words that have meaning only within that group. Only in Surferville can you use words like schlong or woody and NOT be talking about anything obscene. Other surfer words include clidro, gremmie, menehunes, and shibby. All of these assure a good Scrabble score.

At this stage of the column you're probably wondering what it's about. You might say I'm meandering, I certainly digress. I may be off-point, but this is certainly not a rambling discourse. I was merely articulating the cabin fever we all feel now, and how that closed-in feeling sometimes leads to pent-up anger being released. I can articulate a diphthong with the best of them. I know an analemma has nothing to do with a hot water bottle. I can titivate, enjoy some lumpsucker, inspissate, but I'm going to hold off on that colorectomy for a while, at least until after the fartlek passes, but thanks for asking.

There are a lot of angry people out there. Words fly around like bats. Some sting and hurt, but that's because we let them. Words are like spirits, demons – they only hold sway over us if we let them. They are powerless without our energy.

I think we all need to mellow out, that is, to chill (or better yet take a chill pill), cool-it, lay-off, step-back, back off, hold back, re-think things, smell the roses, and just calm down. Be cool, my brothers and sisters! And that is certainly easy to do this time of the year.

Things that get our goat, drive us crazy, make us mad or sick, and piss us off seem important, especially in February when we've been driven half-batty by the snow. Somehow, though, these same things don't seem quite as timely come summer when the fish are biting and the waves are breaking and there are barbecues and pool parties.

I'm worried people reading this will become peniaphobic and blame me. I'm just the messenger – I don't need a bunch of thespians writing nasty letters.

To comment in real time visit indyeastend.com, hit the "columns" link at the top of the home page, and scroll down to the bottom of the column.

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