When I was very young I wanted to be a proctologist. I thought that being an asshole was a good way to go. But, as you can imagine, my parents and my friends were somewhat dismayed. “Where on earth did that dumb ass thought come from?” they said?
As it turned out I joined the Navy and spent my entire working life devoted to the maritime profession. And while I loved the Navy life dearly some of my colleagues would say that either way I got the shaft. Perhaps I did but it did take me awhile to glob on to the military life as I had a plethora of civvie jobs when I was young but with paucity of ambition and get up and go to go along with it. In that regard the Navy’s routine addressed a restless nature, which seemed to be a perfect fit for me, somewhat like a proctologist’s glove.
How I love those two words: plethora and paucity. To me they sound like adjectives for the evil Roman twins Romulus and Remus. Or perhaps more like the words flora and fauna. And I took Latin in high school for 5 years. I was… veritably good at it. Then again I wanted to be a proctologist too: the Latin word for asshole. Somewhat like the word organic: also a Latin derivative meaning grown in pig shit. But I digress.
When I first heard the words “plethora” and “paucity” I thought, “What on earth. Speak clearly man.” It brought my mind back to my elementary school days, grade eight to be exact, where a classmate of mine by the name of Big Maxx loved to show off his literary skills with those flowery descriptive essays that we had to write from time to time and read to the entire class. He didn’t realize just how funny he could be ranting off to the class, proud of his literary skills with words of art that reflected anything but those big flowery descriptive texts for his words were always in the wrong context or with the wrong meaning. He would write: “I had a flora of jobs when I was young but with not a fauna of ambition or get up and go.” Big Maxx wasn’t too smart back then but he did try very, very hard. And those were the days when one could fail a grade. I think Big Max had to repeat Grade 9 a plethora of times.
The writing of those words, flora and fauna, plethora and paucity, Romulus and Remus got me to thinking and brought me to the following train of thought with respect to words:
Words! What is in a word? My kingdom for a word! A horse it may be but a horse is only a word that by any other name is still a word. Words declare wars, they garner peace. Words can be hurtful, they can be playful. Words describe words as in spiteful words, hurtful words, insightful words. We can have a war of words, crosswords or them’s fightin words. Words can be theatrical: we can have a play on words. Word is the law. It is the word. Words are prophetic. Words can be the gospel truth. So sayeth the word of the Lord. Words inspire, they transpire. Words transcribe: you have my word on that. Failing that, can I have a word with you? But words are not enough. That’s why we have lawyers. Words can also be despotic, or chaotic. A single word can inspire poetry, lyricism.
And when a few words are taken together, we have a phrase. And when a couple of phrases are linked together we have, in a word, a “sentence.” And when a group of sentences are grouped together we have, in another word, a “paragraph.” And to describe or summarize a paragraph we can go right back to the beginning of this word-train of thought – to “paraphrase!”
We can combine words to make quotable quotes: some profound, some sublime, some simplistic, some stupidly clear:
“To be or not to be – that is the question.” That may be but on Jeopardy it is the answer!;
“If things are good in moderation then they must be great in excess.” My favourite;
“If something is worth doing, then it is worth overdoing.” My other favourite;
“Baseball is 100% physical. The rest is mental.” (adapted from Berra);
“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. A woman does what she wants;”
“A consultant is someone who is adept at making the simple… complex;”
“The problem with theory is that it’s just not practical enough!;”
“A wise fool is an oxy moron;”
“Those lefties are so darn righteous!;”
“Militancy is great…for pacifists;”
“She was at a loss for words.” a paradox for sure;
“Words cannot describe what she said.” Huh?