Peggy Keener: Oh Words, wonderful words

Published 6:30 am Saturday, March 20, 2021

How utterly amazing is the word. When spoken it is intangible as we cannot hold it in our hands, buy it, or keep it in a safe. It can, however, be locked forever in our hearts if whispered with love …. or regrettably shouted with cruelty.

Words are infinitely shareable. The written word lives on forever tying us to the past on up to the present. Chaucer used the same words we do, although if truth be told, where he would have then declared something as “dreadful,” I would now probably call it “ishy.”

With pen in hand, the words we individual thinkers write set us in stone as they are inexhaustibly malleable, bending to whatever level of linguistic creativity we possess … or how much we care. Having said this, here are some quirky words with which you may play or ponder.

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For starters—next time your buddies ask you for a Bud Light be sure to inquire as to if they want a zarf. It’s that foam can holder that keeps their beer cold.

Or when you notice that someone’s long slender fingers are perfectly designed for piano playing, performing surgery or setting tiny diamonds, know that that person is leptodactylous. Furthermore, if that same person is wearing sandals, check the toes for they are probably long and graceful, too. The stark opposite of this would be stubby. Such a boorish word! No one wants to be stubby. Avoid it at all costs.

Something that shines at night is noctilucent. This describes perfectly the Christmas that our dog ate the tinsel off our tree. The next evening, as the moon’s glow shown upon the snow, sparkling noctilucent piles were visible all across our yard.

People love yeanings because they are simply adorable. Yeanings are baby animals, especially goats and sheep. I can’t speak for owning a newborn goat or sheep, but I can definitely attest to loving dog yeanings. There is nothing like the special sweet smell of their breath. It’s hard to believe our halitosis ridden 14-year-old dog ever had such appeal.

Were you once so parched that you could have sworn you had just staggered across the Sahara without a sip of water? You were suffering from polydipsia. Excessive thirst. But the good news is that you don’t need to travel to Arabia to create your own raging case of polydipsia. Get dry mouth right in the comfort of your own home by eating a bag of potato chips with chunks of dried beef and anchovies. Sweet!

Curmudgeons are up next. They are those folks who are mired, stuck, cemented in their static old ways, never to be budged. They can be described as misocaine, or having a hatred of new ideas. I have a vacuum cleaner that has misocainea. No matter how much I coddle it—cleaning out all its unreachable parts—it has dedicated its life to stubbornly getting clogged causing its suck to suck. And, darn! I got rid of my feather duster too soon, even though all it did was move dust from one object to another, similar to cold germs.

Words are so wonderful and so ripe for bumbling. Years ago while living in Japan, I taught English to eight Japanese businessmen. We met for more than fourteen years and knew each other well. One evening they asked me to tell them a story from my childhood.

I did—a long luscious story of growing up in Austin. When I finished they all sat in silence. I waited. Finally one of them raised his head and let out a powerful sigh … “Oh,” he swooned, “you have wondahful mammaries.”

When I wrote the sequel to “Potato In A Rice Bowl,” I named it “Wondahful Mammaries”. Let’s face it, what could be a more fitting title for a memoir? Mammoir?

But, then, I have segued. Are you known about town as a dandy? Fussy about your appearance? Then you are Turveydropian—overly concerned with how you look and act. You would definitely order a zarf for your beer bottle.

Champagne, the drink of many Turveydropians, is full of perlages. They are the collection of bubbles that are popping inside your glass. You will, however, have to stick with Bud Light if you are impecunious. That is because you are broke. No money, honey.

A smatchet is a deplorable person. Mao Tse Tung was a smatchet along with Hitler and Stalin and Scrooge and Hannibal Lecter. All were definitely the baddest of bad blood. They could best be described as diversivolent, desirous of violence and strife. Hannibal’s story could well have been “Silence of the Sheep Yeanings.”

Goldilocks takes the cake for the next word. She was auricomous. Golden haired. A long time ago I used to be that. Now I’m grayicomous? I just made that up.

If you’ve ever crouched in fear of a smatchet, then you have scrooched. It’s sort of like smooched only without the kissing. Wisely, you find yourself crouched or huddled in an uncomfortable position, because you are hiding from a smatchet who is, no kidding, really the Devil’s spawn.

The good news in all of this is that remarkably every last one of you is a mensch. A decent, honorable, upright person; a citizen of Austin, Minnesota, Hub of the Universe … and Beyond.