Break out the dictionary, Momma
Nearly everybody collects something, even if all of us don’t admit it or realize it.
Beer cans. Pop bottles. Trading cards. Autographs. Coins. Ex-wives.
You name it, somebody somewhere collects it.
Whether it be in a dusty attic, unkempt garage or neatly arranged, barometrically sealed compartment, folks have collections.
Some are displayed with great pride. Some are kept on a personal, almost imperceivable level.
Some are such miniscule or mundane collections, others don’t realize they exist.
Few, for instance, know about the boxes upon boxes of back issues of Sports Illustrated that served no purpose other than to take up space in my closet and attic.
Why I began saving them remains a mystery, even to me. I first subscribed in the early 1970s. It was a fear, perhaps, of Reaganomics that birthed my early-‘80s packrat ways.
Saving periodicals is nothing out of the ordinary. Certain comic books, I’m told, are worth small fortunes.
My true collecting love, however, is a bit more esoteric.
It’s only words, the Bee Gees told us, and words are all I have.
I collect words.
Many of the things said by Opal Irene Smith, my dear old junior high English teacher, continue to ring in my head lo these many decades later.
“I” before “e” except after “c.”
You wouldn’t believe a lie for a minute but the word “believe” has a “lie” right in it.
She taught us of “mnemonic devices,” a term I’ve heard used since by only my mother and eldest sister. It’s no coincidence both are or were superb teachers of English.
The thing Mrs. Smith said repeatedly that I’ve most taken to heart, I suppose, involved words.
Use a word three times and it’s yours.
Mind you: That’s perhaps not the advice to share with pubescent teenage boys who are interested in learning to curse.
But even as I learned other invaluable lessons, I remembered Mrs. Smith’s words regarding words.
My family, like countless others, enjoys friendly competitions when we gather from our many corners. But we’re hardly the Monopoly type. Too often we are board with board games.
But when Mom hefted out her unabridged Random House dictionary, the fur began to fly.
“Dictionary,” we call it.
Don’t ask me from whence it came.
All that’s needed are said dictionary — the more educated the crowd, the thicker the need — along with writing utensils and paper.
A glass or four of wine is optional but recommended.
One player starts by being “it” and finds a word in the dictionary. “Anybody know (chosen word)?” is asked. The usual response is silence.
That silence is broken only by the sound of wheels spinning inside heads, pencils writing and erasers erasing.
Each player writes a “definition” of the word with the hopes of convincing others to think it is the correct version. “It” also pens a definition, albeit often after taking artistic license to great lengths.
After all definitions are read, players vote for the most plausible, assuming such exists. Points are scored for votes for faux definitions and for non-votes for the actual definition.
It’s no wonder I am a sworn subscriber to dictionary.com.
Other Web sites, I’m told, are along similar lines. But I am loyal to dictionary.com for spelling and creativity purposes. And because, as a subscriber — for free, no less — I receive each morning the “Word of the Day.”
The word for April 27, for example, was “supine.” It provided me one of those instances when I actually know the word and annoy everyone within my office with cartwheels, shrieks of joy and self-aggrandizing shouts of “I’m da man!”
Rare are such days.
So rare, in fact, I’ve decided to play “Dictionary” with dictionary.com.
Attached are words with actual definitions and my suggestions.
Indulge me, please.
v. To suggest, indicate or disclose partially.
One who is both ignorant and insolent.
n. A medley; a hodgepodge.
The state of impending motherhood.
v. To mix or mingle.
The area between swine body parts.
adj. Characterized by vulgarity; tawdry.
adj. Noisily and stubbornly defiant.
A painful, contagious throat disease among children.
adj. Valiant; brave.
Excess weight created by consuming bread products.
v. To divide or fork into two branches or parts.
Something done after drinking too many sodas.
v. To take away; to detract.
To mock someone during questioning.
adj. Extremely bad; of poor quality.
Capable of becoming a corporate leader.
n. Mental dullness.
Acrimony among the male species.
adj. Incapable of being passed over or overcome.
The inability of Clark Kent to locate a phone booth.
n. The act or an instance of placing in nearness or side by side.
Attainable only by a contortionist.
n. A person who is broad-minded and tolerant.
One who knows east from west.
n. A boastful pretender to knowledge or a skill.
A credit union for Canadian law enforcement officials.
n. An unscrupulous lawyer; a shyster.
One who lightly sprays for mosquitoes.
v. To go into the country.
A Southern tradition of sitting on the front porch and staring at the fenders of old, inoperable vehicles.