Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More Words

Okay, so in a quick few minutes here, I want to tell you the story about the Dictionary of American Slang. I love this book - got it from QPB, a club to which I have belonged for more years than I have bookshelves. Some of what I get is interesting to Don, like the Intellectual Devotional of American History (today's entry is about Reconstruction in the south after the Civil War, the first federal initiative that had government directly impacting ordinary citizens' everyday lives, or attempting to anyway). But more often his reaction to seeing the cardboard box on the table is, "How big is the bill this time?" To my credit, I'm an excellent bargain hunter, only paying full price for stuff you seriously can't get anywhere else and I seriously can't live without, and he doesn't argue with me. I think he's glad that I buy books and not shoes or jewelry - he always has loved me for my brain.
So anyway, one day several months ago a box arrives and it was on a rainy day when Don happened to be home. He brought it in and unwrapped it. Staring at the cover, and then at me, he looked decidedly perplexed.
"How many dictionaries to you need?" he asked quirking one eyebrow as if I was sending the publishers ideas.
“This one’s really cool,” I said. “It’s a collection of all the words that just sort of fell into the language because of popular use.”
“Like what?” he asked, clearly still skeptical of how anything called a dictionary could be cool (even after 12+ years of marriage and all the old dictionaries he’s lugged home from garage sales and dusty bookstores for me, and even after he acknowledged that the Encyclopedia of Omens and Superstitions is actually pretty informative).
“Look up sh*t” I suggested, going to the kitchen to start lunch, leaving him and his skeptical eyebrow at the table. He opened the book.
It’s a good thing the kids were embroiled in a video game at this point, because he followed me all over the house for the next 15 minutes reading entries. Like a good red-blooded American male, the word he looked up was not the one I suggested, but the F Word.
There are 38 entries, beginning with the word itself (11th century Europe to describe the sex act) and ending with the ultimate insult “____ you” (1940’s).
He sat down at the dining room table again as I put a sandwich in front of him, book still in hand. “Wow, who would have thought a dictionary could be so… entertaining?” he asked.

Well, me.

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