The Turn of a Word

I mentioned in my original blog that I was a word person. I like words. I like their aesthetic– how they look, the letter groupings, what they sound like, what they mean, and how those things change depending upon format, usage, inclination, etc.

Being the word nerd that I am, I play Scrabble a lot. (I also play Words with Friends, but trust me, it’s not the same.) I have three memorable Scrabble related stories.

1. Dave and I have played Scrabble our entire relationship. For one of our wedding anniversaries, I gifted him with a new game (how many years is ‘board’? too soon for ‘bored’) because the original one we used was old, stained (we’ve been known to play for shots), and covered in goofy little love doodles that embarrassed our friends on the occasion that they were invited to join us in a game. I had the old board framed. In addition to the GLLD, I ‘scrabbled’ words like “happy,” “anniversary*,” and “love” with tiles. (As a sidebar, I must * as I’m not sure you could ever spell ‘anniversary’ in regular play.)

2. On Saturday, November 29, 1986, Dave and I opted not to go to the movies to see Solarbabies, and instead stayed home to play Scrabble. In the middle of the game, while watching a rerun of M*A*S*H, I went into labor. My daughter was born three hours later.

3. Once when we were playing Scrabble with a friend, the third party laid down the word QUIXOTIC. For that many points we must challenge. Grabbing the dictionary, we looked it up. I had never heard/seen this word. Dave had never heard/seen this word. The dictionary, however, was quite familiar with it.

Quixotic quix·ot·ic
1. excessively romantic: tending to take a romanticized view of life
2. impractical: motivated by an idealism that overlooks practical considerations
3. impulsive: tending to act on impulses

Based on the actions (delusions?) of Don Quixote, quixotic is a real word. And worth a whole lotta points on the Scrabble board.

The very next day, a Chicago Tribune headline used the word. Yes, this word I had gone decades of my life not knowing surfaced twice in as many days. That headline solidified the meaning for Dave and me.

We use quixotic to represent our experience with the word. Déjà vu, strange, bizarre, a ‘no way!’ moment.

For instance, there was an article in yesterday’s Sunday Trib about the actor Joel Murray, brother of Bill Murray and Brian Doyle Murray. That same afternoon, I caught him in the John Cusak/Demi Moore classic, One Crazy Summer. (You know, the one with Bobcat Goldthwait and that screaming/spitting guy from the Twisted Sister video.) After rarely seeing him, suddenly seeing him on TV after just seeing him in the paper, was quixotic.

Another word we have since changed the meaning of is, Boo.

Boo boo
1. expressing disapproval: used to express dissatisfaction or contempt, especially at a speaker or performer
2. used to startle somebody: used to surprise or startle somebody

When we first got cell phones (hard to believe how long it’s been!), Dave would text me when he was on his way home. For those of you who don’t know, Dave works in Aurora and we live in DeKalb, about a 40 minute commute. This courtesy text allowed me time to prepare dinner so it was hot and ready for my honey when he walked through the door. Here, let me take your hat and briefcase as I hand you a freshly shaken martini.

Or it gave me time to clean up my (many) project messes.

For whatever reason, one time he shortened his “on my way” or “just leaving,” to “boo.” I don’t know why, he doesn’t recall why, but the word has been adapted. He doesn’t always remember, though. How am I supposed to greet you at the door in nothing but an apron if you don’t boo me?

If you’re with me this far, I think you’re going to get a kick out of this one.

Dave and I read and watch a lot of science fiction, futuristic, thriller, horror, etc. Whenever people try to contact someone from the ‘other side,’ there’s often confusion as to if it’s really their loved one or some sort of unwelcome demon, alien, or monster of some violent ilk. To nip any doubt, should one of us contact or be contacted, we’ve come up with a secret word. You might think it’d be our first car together or the first street we lived on, some silly pet name or actual pet name, quixotic or boo, but no. Our code word is ‘pepperoni.’

Pepperoni  pep·per·o·ni
1. spicy sausage: a hard dry Italian sausage spiced with pepper, or a slice of this, often used on pizzas

In and of itself, that’s merely odd, but when you consider where it came from, well, I think it’s downright hilarious. An episode of Glee featured a cafeteria food fight. The students showed up to chorale class with spaghetti noodles in their hair, pudding on their shirts, and pepperoni in their bras. “Those are your nipples.” We laughed so hard at that line. Sure it was shock elicited laughter, but still, we couldn’t believe they said that on a primetime family network show (a questionable definition, I know) and it was funny!

Dave knows that if he is tuning the radio or the antenna, gazing into a glass sphere or reading tarot cards and the word ‘pepperoni’ is not mentioned, back away baby, it ain’t me.

Now, there was NO WAY a creature of malevolent means was going to guess our password, but now that I’ve shared, we’ll have to change it.

Somehow I think we’re up for the word challenge.

About Mary Fran Says

I am an artist, crafter, designer and writer. I enjoy working with mixed media-- applying visual and tactile manipulations to telling a story. Not a lot of market for that, though, :), so I'm focusing on short story submissions and novel completions. Yes, plural. Lots of beginnings, too many ideas, not enough focus.
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3 Responses to The Turn of a Word

  1. Bob says:

    Co-in-ci-dent-al (adj): I was working on a rough draft of a blog similar to this one about the words we use in our family that may not be used in the same way by the outside world… or even used at all in the outside world.
    Good (adj): This blog. I hope no aliens are reading this though. You’ll need to think of another code word otherwise!

  2. coincidental? or quixotic…

  3. Pingback: This is Z end. | Mary Lamphere

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