I write to you from my deathbed, not in my home, but in my suite at the mournful but not morose Curmudgeon offices. Yes, I have a bed here, so I can come in even when I am dying and be master of my domain (even in the Seinfeld sense.) I am not really dying, but feel like I’m dying due to a case of food poisoning.
While I am not your typical whiny male whenever I get sick, I do moan a lot. I moan loud. Deep, mournful, forlorn, elephants are stepping on my toes loud. The staff is less than sympathetic—except for Suzie from Indiana, who is always ready to whip up some homemade chicken soup or bake a loaf of herb, Parmesan-crusted bread—and they make fun of me by dressing all in black and parading by my bed with lit candles, whispering to each other, “He was a bastard…but I loved him.”
And that is how I have come to be rereading all my old “Word of the Day” emails—four per day—which pile up in my mailbox unread, unused, and unlearned. Let me tell you, four per day is too many for me. I can’t keep up with them and learn them before the next batch comes in, and then the next and the next, piling up on top of each other like dried beans dropping into a mason jar (I was gonna go with “like the guests at a Caligula party,” but thought that might be pushing it.)
I have found that the “Word’s of the Day” come in several categories, all of which can be classified as the Good, the Bad, or the Ugly. That is a personal decision however, so I’ll let you determine which it is according to your sensibilities. So let’s get to it.
Words That You Thought You Knew
CANDOR: We all know this word to mean unreserved, honest, or sincere expression. But that is actually its third definition. The first is whiteness, brilliance. I like this kind of word, where you think you know it and then find out it has this totally different use you have never thought of. I think the next time I’ll write, “The day began with a stunning candor.”
Words You Know but Never Use
SHILLY-SHALLY: Hesitantly, irresolutely. This works for me because although we know what it means, we—or I, at least—never think to use it. Getting it in my mailbox reminds me that it is out there to be called upon when some levity is desired. I’ll remember to use this word more often. Without further shilly-shallying, we come to…
Words That Suck and Then They Don’t
GUDGEON: A small European fresh-water fish. Now, why the heck would I need to know this? I don’t fish and I especially don’t fish when I am in Europe. But then you read on and find that the word also means bait and a gullible person. Ahh…that’s different. This opens up new possibilities. “Don’t be such a gudgeon! Stand up like a man!”
So, it’s time to absquatulate from this article. I have shilly-shallyied enough and can only hope that tomorrow will shine with candor. No longer shall I play the gudgeon. Perhaps I’ll make some Quaker Avenaceous porridge. But that homemade soup and fresh-baked bread is starting to sound good. I wonder if Suzie would think I was whining if…naw…she won’t mind…
“Susie! SUZIE! Would you come in here a minute, pretty please???? I dying here…”