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Some days I just have to go with a fifth-grade vocabulary


Last updated 11/7/2020 at 6:10pm

I would like to begin today's missive with some choice verbiage from one of my favorite comedic animations. Translated: “Let me start this story off by quotin' the funny papers.

From “Pickles” Aug. 2, the dialogue between Grandpa and a buddy sitting on a park bench goes like this:

Grandpa says, “Does this bench feel hard to you?”

“No, I went numb about an hour ago.”

“Have you read any good books lately?”

“Yes, a plethora.”

“A Plethora? Oh, yeah, I've been meaning to read that one.”

“No, that's not a book title, it's a word. It means a whole bunch.”

“Ahh ... I see, a whole bunch. Huh? Well, like someone said a big vocabulary is like underwear ... Everyone should have it, but they shouldn't show it off.”

That's been the principle I've lived in column writing for more than 30 years. I've always said, write like you were writing to your mother. No offense, Mom.

For the most part, except for a few crabby old English teachers it's worked out well for me. When those teachers write me they always use words I don't understand anyway so I just don't read the letters.

Like Grandpa, my vocabulary was once much larger than it is now but my brain's been ravaged by a severe case of CRS. That's right, I Can't Remember Stuff. Haha, you thought I was going to use that other word there didn't you.

I probably would have — I just couldn't remember the word, you know the word — C'mon man.

It truly is maddening to not be able to come up with the word or the name I'm looking for whilst spewing this semi-lucite stream of consciousness. Wait a minute now, something's not right in that last sentence, oh yeah, should be semi-lucid.

What's worse for a self-pronounced spelling bee champion is when I can't get close enough to spelling even small words for spell check to kick in. Some days I just give up and go to the fifth-grade vocabulary. Other days I refer to that thing, you know the thing, sounds like stegosaurus but it ain't a dang dinosaur ... thesaurus, that's it.

Gee, I wonder what another word for thesaurus would be? That trusty language reference book (online of course) says here one word would be onomasticon. I feel like I just traded in the extinct stegosaurus for the extinct mastodon.

Suddenly I realize that this column isn't going anywhere near the location I pointed it toward.

To quote one of my favorite TV characters, Archie Bunker: “Patience is a virgin.”

“WhataIgaddado, draw you a diaphragm or somethin'?”

Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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