Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's f#*king raining out.

On Tuesday night I was driving back to Boston from Stockbridge on the Massachusetts turnpike. I stopped at a rest area and walked toward the indoor food court. It was raining, not drizzling, but not a downpour. I did not feel the need to run.

Out from the food court emerged a young family. A man, probably about 26, and a woman about the same age. The woman was carrying an infant. As he walked away from the protective roof of the rest stop, I heard the following:

"It's f#*king raining out."

He didn't say it as if if he was particularly horrified. It sounded like he didn't really want it to be raining, and so it was not quite like a weather report, but it was not an utterance that you thought would be followed by a mad dash to the car. And in fact there was no mad dash. The threesome continued walking. The only other thing I heard was his wife's sober rejoinder.

"F#*k." she said. And then the couple with the infant continued to move through the parking lot.

Am I a prude? I don't think so. I have banged my thumb with a hammer now and again and spewed some words meant to be expurgated. And, just for example, I can clearly remember the Giant-Patriots Super Bowl game, when my Patriots went into the game with an unblemished record. And I can clearly remember the Giants drive when Eli Manning went back to pass and then, abetted, by at least one egregious hold, and likely three holds, threw a pass up for grabs which was caught by a bench warming receiver who secured the ball against his head. This play preceded the score that ended the Patriots perfect season. I think it is a fair bet that what I spewed at the conclusion of that play will not be in any sermons this weekend, regardless of your denomination.

But still. What's with the omnipresent modifier.

In the Madness of March I describe one fellow I overhear on a betting line. He is describing the meal he has consumed at a hotel's buffet. Chicken ala king, peach pie, salad bar...whatever the item, the fellow modified it consistently with the same adjective. Pick a noun, any noun.

I have just completed President Obama's Audacity of Hope. It's no page turner because the content matter while important is not always engaging--at least not to me--but the author's ability to select the correct word to match his thought is remarkable. Brilliant really. His vocabulary is extensive, but the words he chooses are not so chosen to impress, just to express. I marvelled at how often he seemed to pluck just the right words to describe a nuanced perspective.

Ages ago I was hired to teach a course in vocabulary. I took the job because I needed one. The result of having to learn the words I was to teach was that I was able to think more effectively and express myself more efficiently.

If all you have is one adjective, then you are sort of limited in how you can conceptualize.

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