“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. ” – Mark Twain
I’m not an eloquent speaker or writer, BUT to me…finding the right word in imperative. You see, to me, words are really the only way that we can truly communicate with one another. And I don’t mean Caveman “me want food. you make fire.” words. Those are good too, obviously. We get our point across that way. But words….all those damn words to choose from…they can make all the difference.
Right around the time I was started college, a friend of mine was in a passionate (young) love affair with a sailor. He wrote her the most heartfelt love letter. But one thing still stays with me until today: The roaring laugh we had over the WRONG word.
“I miss your gentile touch.”
“Did he seriously put “gentile?” Doesn’t that mean a non-Jew??” We were LOL’ing before there even was LOL.
And there….just like that…that heartfelt love letter turned into a long running joke. I felt bad, but whatever. He didn’t last (obviously. How many young loves do?), but that one word left a lasting impression.
Yes it was just a misspell. Or was it? Maybe he didn’t even know what he was doing. Maybe he thought “gentile” was the right word. How the hell do I know? But I’ve always been obsessed with finding the right words. I’m extremely shy and find it hard to speak up in front of people. And when I do…I go over it and over it in my head first. So I get it right. I hate stumbling over my words (which I do. Not eloquent remember?) and beat myself up over it hours later.
When I was in therapy…man it was hard. Not because I don’t like spewing my guts. I love spewing my guts. I’ll tell you anything you want to know. All you have to do is ask. But when answering a question…I’m very particular. I must choose the right words or else you might get the wrong idea. And obviously in therapy, there are no such things as a wrong answer, but you certainly cannot say “Well I feel crazy today.” Because, let’s be fair, psychiatrists actually deal with crazy ass people. I use that as a funny example, but seriously…it was something I did not take lightly. I wanted to make sure my answers were crafted just so….so that I was getting my true feelings across. I don’t want there to ever come a time when someone says to me “Why didn’t you just tell me you felt that way?’ I’m all about telling people how I feel and why. There shouldn’t be any blank pages when it comes to JMo.
So all this thinking about words made me mourn the loss of actual language. The fact that the dictionary is adding ridiculous words coupled with the fact that no one can even spell anymore, nevermind use correct grammar, oh and Scrabble letting you use proper nouns????? Sickening. Ever see the love letters that Civil War guys sent home. Check them out sometime. You will never see anything like this come out of Afghanistan:
I don’t know how much pleasure it affords you to go over these days of the past, but to me they will ever be remembered as days of felicity. And how happy the thought that years increase the affection & esteem we have for each other to love & be loved. May it ever be so, and may I ever be a husband worthy of your warmest affections. May I make you happy and in so doing be made happy in return. A sweet kiss and embrace to your greeting.
Today is would be more like:
Wasssssssup?! Hows my favorite baby mama? OMG it is so hawt hear. I have sand up my asssssssss! Dayum!! You better not be creeping. When I get home imma be hanging with my boys for a minute so you better not bitch bout it. Ok, gotta go. Send naked pics next time. Peace from the Middle East!
So that’s all. Where have all the words gone? How about less “LOL” and more “I laughed, but more to myself really and not so loud that anyone else could hear me.”