Wordplay and other serious business

Well, Colleen has packed up her always pragmatic and evolved writing advice and gone off on vacation this week, leaving me to woo woo up the place to my heart’s content. For starter, here’s a cell cam photo of an early morning visitor to my office window. Just in case anyone would like to join me in meditating on the enormous gorgeousness of life so perfectly expressed in the expanding pink throated dance of lizards.

I woke up with my muscles screaming from my strength training session yesterday, but I went to pilates class anyway. Unfortunately, I had put moisturizer on my legs just before I went, so it was like trying to hold onto a couple of halibuts, and I had a hard time not giggling. As we were stretching out at the end of the hour, I had an epiphany about the muscles I never use. And not just the ones screaming at me from the fierce regions of my torso and extremities.

I was thinking about wordplay muscles and the fine motor skills of creative vocabulary. I think it’s important for writers to fritter away an hour now and then on Word Mojo. Sit down and play Scrabble with the family. Agonize over the New York Times crossword puzzle on Sunday. Anything to maintain our playful relationship with language. To take language as a lover, not trudge alongside it chain gang style. Wordplay is how we do that.

The other night, Gary and I were debating whether or not “no problem” is an appropriate response to “thank you”. I think it makes perfect sense, but Gary insisted, “It’s completely non sequitur. You may as well say waffle bag or metal monkey or—or—go ahead. Say thank you.”

“Thank you, honey,” I said without—no, I swear—not rolling my eyes at all.

“Mail box!”

“Thanks, dear.”

“Balsa wood!”

“Thank you.”

“Premium unleaded!”

So this morning we were driving to the gym, and I hit him with it out of nowhere.

“Thanks, Bear.”

“Shingle trappings!”

And the game was on.


TJ Bennett said…
You two are SO bizarre. LOL! I say that with perfect love, you know.

"Balsa Wood!"

I have a friend who thinks "no problem" is incredibly rude, that it implies the assumption that it would be some sort of trouble to assist, say, a customer.

I like it, though. It's in the spirit of "no worries," as an Australian acquaintance frequently says. A nice, laid-back expression that occasionally subs in for its stodgier cousin "you're welcome" in informal circumstances.

But we all have our linguistic hot buttons. My hair stands on end when I hear people use "busted" for "broke" or "very unique," since unique should never be modified. Or how about the friendly admonition, "Drive careful, now."


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