words

Waiting & Cussing

lonely carI hate it when I get tired and irritated and run out of words. When I run out of words, I resort to cussing. Mind you, I’m talking cussing, not swearing. There is a difference. Swearing, in my humble opinion is a higher art form than cussing. Swearing involves creative thought, a unique combination of well put together words to form an expressive and descriptive, yet negative picture. For example:

“Mother of pearl and golden dams, that hurt!”

Cussing on the other hand, it more earthy, immediate and guttural:

“Hell’s bells and g*d dammit, that hurt!”

There are no well thought out variations; no, it’s just a bam! there you are sort of thing. Visceral and heartfelt cussing is brought out when there is no time or filter.  To me, it has it’s place in one’s freedom of expression and I have no shame nor sorrow to say I am verbally proficient, but it is also the bottom rung of word symbolism and yesterday I sank that low in writing. For that, I am embarrassed (especially if my mother reads it).

Let us recreate the scene:

As you may or may not know, I am still having issues with my right foot and ankle. I have seen doctor after doctor to find out why my poor ankle and foot swell to the point of tightness and pain and why my ankle will give me acute shooting agony at odd times. Ultrasound, MRIs, x-rays: all reveal nothing, except the things I do not have. The last orthopedic specialist recommended I be tested for soft tissue diseases and see a vascular specialist. Money doesn’t grow on trees, so why shell out for yet another specialist if I can get some of that done at the local level, you know? That is how I ended up at my general practice doctor’s office.

 
So there I was at my GP’s. I signed in a cheerful 20 minutes early, thinking in a strangely optimistic way that this would help slide me right into my 4:15pm appointment. Now, that’s not as foolish as it sounds because this was happening at my other appointments for the past few weeks, so I had reason to be hopeful. Well, those hopes were soon to be dashed in a slow, torturous tunnel of time.

 
I was tired, nervous, and on edge. This ankle thing has been going on for quite some time and it’s costing me a lot in many ways. Chronic pain does something to people and by people, I mean me. I am grumpy, short tempered, and tense. I end up taking a lot of meds to help take the edge off and by that virtue, I end up losing time at work. (Goodness knows, I don’t want to have to go through a urine test at work for this!) I’m also losing valuable good time with my family, especially Yoda, who is growing up and away by the day. I’m distracted, well, you get the picture. I was ready to get the appointment going so I could get my labs done and be on my way.

 
As I sat working my crossword puzzle and surreptitiously observing the others in the waiting room, I kept hearing name after name being called back, all but mine. I think I knew I was in trouble when a fellow waiting room occupant not only ran out the internal battery of her Kindle, but also the emergency battery and began searching for an outlet. By 4:45, I was ready to bust. The woman behind the counter said, with a verbal pat on the head, that it shouldn’t be too much more time. It is too laugh.
My eyes were bleary from working crosswords, I played through the paltry assortment of games on my phone, and ran out of people to observe because I was the only one left. The religious MUZAK was taking on ominous tones of brainwashing. God’s happy music was starting to sound a bit on the Stepford side. If the reason for my visit was not so important to me, I would have walked a long time ago. It was now 5pm.

 
At last my name was called to the magic ‘back’, but told that it would still be a wait.  I left home over two hours ago and have been waiting an hour and 15 minutes. Insert internal screaming here.

 
I entertained myself in the exam room with more magazines, but that didn’t last long. I swiped a couple of tongue depressors and had a wooden sword fight with myself. I took a latex glove and blew it up to make a chicken. I paced a little to stave off the sleep that threatened. I allowed myself to get beyond frustration and what is a modern person to do about that? I posted it to FaceBook.

 
This is where the written cussing took place. All out in public. Yep, the best place in the world to display a total lack of verbal creativity and show that I really should have joined the Navy that day in the recruiter’s office so long ago. I ended my short little rant with the mother of all four letter combinations. Yes, I dropped the ‘f-bomb’ on public media. Really swift.

 
You know if you post a photo and comment it on it via mobile, you can’t edit the comment? Found that out a little too late. So there it sat, four little rudely combined members of the alphabet for the world (or at least the twelve people who read my FB page) to see. I think that began to bother more than the continued waiting.

 
I am not a prude by any means, as I said I am very proficient in verbal cussing, have been since a young age. I used to get in trouble in elementary school (yes, me) for gratuitous usage of foul language. Perhaps that is where my love for words began – trying to find the alternates. Or perhaps it’s where I learned that words have power – to change, to mark, to delineate, to shame or raise up. Next time and I am sure there will be a next time, I will stick with swearing (at least in public). It is much less worrisome, at least to me, but if you perchance do see me slip up and bring out the verbal trash again, please note the dire circumstances said expletives are surrounded by and do not judge too harshly.

 
Oh, and by the way, I did not get out of the doctor’s office until 6:20pm. Gosh darn it.

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Nom de Plume

I seem to have an issue with revealing true names here.  Except for my Aunts Tricia and Gloria and myself, I don’t think I referenced anyone’s real name.  And Tricia doesn’t count because only her immediate family calls her that.

My partner, Bashert on the other hand has no qualms at all about not protecting the innocent on her blog. (Bashert’s not her real name – she actually has a beautiful name to be debuted at a later date – but the meaning of bashert fits our lives completely.)

Maybe for me its still the private part of me not wanting to quite put it all out there yet.

Or it could be that I still succumb to our family trait of inventing alternate names for people. I’m not talking diminutives or family words for things.

If Bashert and I can’t remember someone’s name or haven’t been introduced to someone yet, we come up with a mnemonic to use for ourselves as reference points.

Some are just practical observation, others are based on observation and behaviors or circumstance.

We used have a woman who lived in our townhouse complex who drove this beat up, powder-blue, Volvo station wagon.  We could hear the thing coming a mile away, so she became “Volvo Lady”.

We used to have another set of neighbors, who were from China.  The husband spoke English to a point, except when he got excited.  He and his wife had a second baby and when we asked what they had he replied, “It’s a Larry.”  So, from then on out the poor baby was called “The Larry”.

We’ve had a couple of site managers involved with our complex who haven’t been exactly stellar in carrying out their managerial duties. One guy who wouldn’t answer his phone unless it was to tell you not to call, was dubbed “The Nazi”.  His blonde Arian appearance may have had something to do with that one as well.

The second manager expected a tip every time he did any kind of service.  He was knighted as “Master Bates”.

There was a woman in a class I was taking, that had to be one of the whitest people I had ever seen and I’m not talking in the cultural sense, no she was just this side of albino.  So, obviously she became “White Lady”.  I didn’t say we were too inventive.

The nurse who had such an issue with my partner and I when our son was born became “Nurse Ratchet”.

The technician who tortured Bashert with the mammography machine was the “Mammogram Nazi”.  (Nazi becomes a good universal.)

My Dad’s mother who was quite large, became “Great Big Grandma” or “Great Big” after my nephew as a small boy got confused with the relationship great-grandmother.   At the same time my mother, his grandmother hence forth became “Little Grandma”.  He still calls her Little.

One of my daughter’s less savory boyfriends – “The Troll”.

Then there was the embarrassing incident with Bashert and I that involved “The Guy on the Ladder”. Again, not inventive, but practical.

The name calling is not always confined to people.

When we were in college, Bashert had the entire Art Department calling the sculpture lab “downstairs”.  The sculpture labs were down the hill across campus from the the 2D labs – made sense.  I think its still called that to this day.

When I was going through my horrid, nasty nine year divorce, my mother kept a file at her house with all pertinent information labeled as “Roosevelt”.  My ex (referred to in writing as AH – you figure that one out) left on D-Day.

One of my favorites was invented by Mom. She refers to that American treasure, Wal-Mart as the SOD.  Shop of the Damned.  Go ahead, deny that one.

So, until the day when I choose or have permission to let the world know what their true identities are we shall remain known as Bashert (my beautiful, meant to be partner), Yoda (our son) and Neneé (our daughter) and our cast of yet unnamed others.

And be on the watch – you never know when you may be called a name.

Tarzan and the Art of Communication

Tarzan. The name conjures up a wide variety of images doesn’t it?

My favorite is of Johnny Weissmuller standing on the fabled escarpment in his loincloth.  But this is not about fighting alligators, saving Jane or looking really good in animal skins. No, something entirely different.

While Tarzan is a fictional character (to most), there is no denying he holds true command of the world he lives in and frankly, I admire the way he had to learn the secrets of the jungle world in order to survive.

Millions of words are used every day, but only a portion of them are put together simply and directly enough to get their true meaning across.  Tarzan spoke and was understood.  This could be a lesson for us all.

Tarzan was a man of few words.  Tarzan was a man who didn’t know a whole lot of words.  But he was able to become Lord of the Jungle with the simple vocabulary he possessed before gaining an extensive British education.

How?

He used direct, specific and simple language to rule the jungle he presided

over.  He called it as he saw it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Tarzan always cut right to the chase of the matter.  In his world, there was no time for misdirection or misunderstanding.  When you are wrestling with your despotic, great ape, step-father Kerchak, you can’t take the time to state:

“Please, my elephantine friend would you be so kind as to throw my recently stone sharpened, seven inch dagger in my approximate vicinity?”

Nope.  You’ve got to state it directly, “Tantor, knife!”

You will note that Tarzan is also very specific without being verbose. (A challenge of mine for sure.)

In the novel, Tarzan the Ape Man, there is a note written to the would-be squatter in Tarzan’s house on the beach. (I have p.c.’d it a bit. ERB wasn’t known for his outstanding feminism or race relations.)

“This is the house of Tarzan, killer of beasts.  Do not harm the things which are Tarzan’s.  Tarzan watches.”

The note reveals in no uncertain terms that the house belongs to Tarzan, who will probably kill you if you mess with his stuff.  And to make sure nothing happens, he adds the unveiled threat that he is going to be watching to make sure nothing does!

You can’t get much more specific and direct than that.

The simplicity of Tarzan’s message is self evident.  His language is simple and clear.  He doesn’t overload his audience with extraneous details, be it jungle or urban animal.

If he needs a knife, that’s what he asks for.  If he doesn’t want you on his territory, that’s what he tells you.

Try this – read the statement and then translate it to its most common phrasing.  Answers will be at the bottom.

  1. “May I please have the distinct pleasure of escorting you out to the floor so that we may ambulate in rhythmic time to the melodious sounds emanating from the gathered musicians?”
  2. “Two siblings traversed a local geographic land mass to retrieve a cylindrical container filled with the potable liquid confined within the walls of a manmade, hollow depression located at the apex of said mass.”
  3. “I would like to initiate an invitation for you to join me in entering my personal vehicle of transportation powered by a combustable gasoline engine, so that we may voyage about the general surrounding areas.”

Fun, huh?

So while Tarzan may not inspire you chuck it all and go running amok through the jungle, you do have to admit he was a leader who proved that a direct, specific and simple message is often the best approach in a complicated and competitive world.

He did after all manage to conquer the jungle, lead a nation and get the girl, without wasting time or confusing the issue.

Answers:

  1. “Wanna dance?”
  2. “Jack & Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.”
  3. “Let’s go for a ride.”