Sometimes people amaze me.

So, I consider myself a writer. Sometimes. I enjoy a quick twist of phrase, or a witty or unusual comment. Particularly one I think up myself. Today however, I was astounded when, in the course of a single conversation, Erin let out two jaw-droppers. The first was ‘death on a stick’. The second was ‘like Tupperware for your face’.

I probably should give some context for the conversation, and how it involved highway driving in Massachusetts and the second was about a sales-type party for lotions and other bath products. But the particular circumstances are really irrelevant. What’s important in both cases was my scary reaction, overemphasizing how much I liked each phrase and startling poor Erin both times. But seriously, both were cool! And both were totally things I would say! Somehow when you make random comments about gumdrops or cards and cheese, anyone else saying something in the same way you would becomes an event.

Words I love.

Ok, so I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile, and today, I’m extra-bored. SO –

Punk – Jo says this one is the hard consonants, which I think is true, as far as sound goes. But

Wiggins – As in ‘Weird old guys really give me the wiggins.” Did anyone else have Mr. Wiggins in high school? I’m sure he was not creepy, but he has a name that sounds like it should be a ridiculous butler.

Wapiti – not only are these little deer things cute, they also have a name that stings like a sandwich in the FACE. Also, the plural gives you a Scrabble bingo.

Eunuch – I love this word, and I hate it. The hate comes from my inability to pronounce the thing. I see the ‘e’, and think it should start with a ‘ee’ sounds, not a ‘you’ sound. I love this word, because it’s better than you’re basic threat: “I’ll make you a eunuch.” See, that even looks wrong.

Ragamuffin – Not only for the aspirated ‘f’ sound do I love this word. It looks like what it is – a little ragged around the edges, possibly spongy like cake. And when you say it, it sounds as if there are little sprouts growing out of it. Delicious!

Tomfoolery – This is Corina’s input. It does have a certain hickish/grandpa ring to it. ‘Dagnabit, quit your tomfoolery, Huckleberry!’

Bebop – This works both as a music genre and as a name for a cute little robot.  What other word could encompass the pep, energy, vim, and vigor of both?

Smorgasbord – Maybe it’s my European blood, but this word just sounds like THE ULTIMATE.  It’s like an infidel conqueror of a word, something reserved for total annihilation.  Who can resist the power of the mighty SMORGASBORDI?!

Tsunami – Ok, that last one got me thinking about destruction, and what natural disaster is more fun-sounding and anime than !Tsunami! ? For real though, it sounds even like the title of a cheesy
70s beach movie, which I would love.  Actually, it may be the title of a cheesy 70s beach movie.  In fact, I’m going to be disappointed if it’s not.

The Salamander

The word ‘salamander’ today often brings to mind something slimy and wet with very little concern for its own limbs.  After all, it can regrow limbs and other body parts at need.  So an individual arm or leg or even liver would not have the same value to it as these irreplaceable parts do to us.  For quite some time, this ability has been under investigation by the medical community.  After all, what person whose lost a hand wouldn’t give the world to get it back?  There have even been studies (which I know of only from hearsay – I haven’t read the research myself) that the human body originally has this regrowth ability.  Children under the age of five have been known to regrow pinkies – at least those that are cut above the second knuckle.

It seems somewhat realistic then that current medicine hopes to encourage our own stem cells to regrow body parts at least partially today.  While I am a little hesitant to endorse anything named ‘pixie dust’ and made from pig products, it’s still an interesting idea.  I would like to be able to encourage my cells to grow wings so I can fly.  Or at least a useful third arm.

Pixie dust and extra limbs aside, there are other connotations for salamanders that have grown up from misconceptions about the animal that I find intriguing.  Salamanders are named to be fire creature, created from flame, animals that live in intense heat and have the ability to cool fires.  Modern science calls them amphibians, living at least part of their lives in the water, and suspects that the whole fire idea came from rotting logs put on the flames that sent the creatures who lived there skittering out.  According to modern science, they secrete a milky substance when in danger, which may have kept them from being baked crispy by the flames.  But is this really the truth behind their legend?

We may all disparage people in the past, but I find it hard to believe that even the Greeks were without basic concepts of fire building.  A damply rotting log does not burn well.  An amphibian doesn’t usually try to live in a drying-out piece of rot, where its food source has probably already died out.  Be that as it may, there’s a certain attraction regarding any animal said to be born of fire.  Other associations of the word regard soldiers and chaste women.  The soldiers are exemplified for exposing themselves to the heat of the most intense combat; the women, for remaining pure when surrounded by the fires of temptation.  There’s even a verb form in the OED – ‘to live amist fire, like the salamander’.  It reminds me of the proverb about ‘interesting times’ – to live, surrounded by rage and pain and all the other downfalls of society and peril, and still to be a green and glowing thing.  Whether born of fire or pond, the salamander is still a form of renewal and growth and life.

The words we’ve misplaced.

I’ve started reading Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut today. That may be weird to those of you who knwo I’m an avid reader. And I like Vonnegut – I do – I just had never gotten around to this one before. There are lots and lots of them, you know. But when a friend decided to give up their worldly possessions, including books, I jumped at teh chance to possess a copy. Ahh, possessions.

So far I’ve just read a bit, but it’s good. I’ve already been reminded of things forgotten: Armistice Day, and prosperity. How I miss these words in my everyday speech! How I wish they would return to me freely, perhaps unannounced. Thus far, they have not.
I read a post online today as well that mentioned this problem. The lost word? Frankfurter. Wouldn’t we all be better people, wouldn’t the world just be a better place, if we said frankfurter a little more often?