My wife and I were sitting around the other day and she made a comment, using a word I didn’t understand. Not hard to do, I’ve never been much on words over one syllable or three or four letters. Why use so many letters in one word?
I’ve said it before, I’m not a gamer, of any sort. When first married, my wife and I would play her favorite game, scrabble. (ugh!) She’d be over there laying out xylophone, claustrophobic or pneumonoultramicroscopisilicovolcanoconiosis while I’d be struggling with cat, bat, map, etc, etc.,( probably didn’t help that her father was an English teacher!) Scrabble didn’t last very long in my list of things to do of an evening. We’d meet occasionally meet with some friends and play the word game Probe. Everyone creates a word, lays the word face down while the other players take turns guessing letters, then the word. Sort of a home version of Wheel of Fortune.
My wife’s use of the unfamiliar word the other day had me reflecting upon my youth. My parents must have seen my vocabulcarical limitations. One Christmas I received a gift that rattled as you shook it. I couldn’t imagine what this noise maker was from the list of my first choices. As I unwrapped, an unfamiliar title appeared. Anagrams! What in the heck is anagrams? I opened the box and a thousand individual letters fell in my lap. Oh, my! What were MY parents thinking. Educational entertainment. I recall the game was a lot like scrabble without the board or points. I remember playing the game once, maybe twice. I don’t recall who tired of the game first, me or my parents? Or was is my parents tiring of me being tired of it? Whatever, the rattily box moved often but was seldom opened on purpose.
As an adult, one day I found myself driving home from the upper Midwest to the middle Midwest, with my youngest son to accompany in the thirteen hour ride. I believe my son was a freshman in high school at the time. As adult and teenager often do, we seem have run out of common conversational topics after fifteen minutes. For some reason he chose to launch into a narration of the congregating tenses of the present tense of the second derivative of multiplicative something or other. Well, he wanted to talk and I wanted to drive, so, like with my wife I interjected the affirmative recognitions at the appropriate times for 120 miles, a-huh, a-huh. At the end of the 120 miles, he says, “how was that”. Not to discourage him, I did the ole verbal pat on the back, “great son!” Five seconds past and he turned to me and said, “now repeat it back to me”.
My affinity for language hasn’t improved with age. It was never an interesting topic as a student, and it’s no better today. It’s much easier to make up my own words or stick to those of single syllable.