In just a few weeks I’ll have spent half a year with Bertie the Behemoth.
What? No applause? That’s okay. I can’t say it’s been easy, but I also haven’t been a dictionary-reading champion whose earned that moment on the podium with a gold medal hung around my neck. I mean, there’s still time for that, but, well, it might just be a Forlorn Hope (a persistent or desperate hope that is unlikely to be fulfilled)
There has been something I’ve been searching for with every definition I’ve burnt through and it has evaded me for hundreds of pages, numerous months and countless days! But, finally, at long last I have found it! And I found it in the definition for none other than Mr. Sigmund Freud.
You see, beyond this quaint little blog here, I’m also a gainfully employed writer and in my line of work if I’m given an opportunity to slip in a pun or a double entendre I most definitely will.
Things like this.
(Just to clarify, these weren’t my doing.)
Now, when I began reading the dictionary all I could think was “how do they keep it so straight forward?” Definitions are boring. I have to say it. Their job isn’t to entertain or convince, but to inform with no prejudice. And yet there is so much potential to have fun with them. How do the lexicographers and editors and everyone else involved resist? I don’t think I could. And apparently, for just one, short moment… neither could they.
It all happened right out of the blue. I was sitting there in my low-riding king’s chair, dutifully reading as I sipped my morning coffee. And then…
Freud, Sigmund – Austrian neurologist and psychotherapist. The first to draw attention to the significance of unconscious processes in normal and neurotic behaviour, he was the founder of psychoanalysis, and his theory of the sexual origins of neuroses aroused great controversy; his works include The Interpretation of Dreams, Totem and Taboo, and The Ego and the ID.
For a moment I was stunned. And then I leapt to my feet and hoisted The Behemoth to the air. The day had finally come! They are not lexicographical robots! It was so subtle I could have missed it, but there it was in all of its inky glory. Aroused. Whoever wrote this definition could have used a lot of other words, but they chose aroused when talking about sexual neuroses from the guy who introduced the Oedipus Complex concept to the world.
Thank you, whoever you are, for showing that even the best can’t resist the temptation. It was perfect, by the way.
Now that you know the single greatest moment of the past three weeks (and quite possibly the past half a year) it’s time for all the runner-ups.
I’ll kick it off with Foo (used to name temporary, hypothetical, or representative variables or files). It’s a straight-up fun word to say. And while it’s more of a programming thing, I think I’ll start titling my works-in-progress “Foo” since they’re only temporary. You know what I’m talking about. Everyone has opened up that save as dialog box and punched in Final Draft.doc clicked save and sat back thinking it was a job well done.
But then soon, you’ve got Final Draft 2.doc and Final Draft 3.doc and Final Draft 3 Second Attempt.doc and One More Final Draft.doc and One More Fucking Final Draft.doc and The Last Fucking Draft I Fucking Swear.doc and finally … FUCK THIS I QUIT.doc.
But that’s just a footling (trivial, silly) thing.
You know, since Mr. Freud’s definition started this all off with the whole arousal thing… let’s walk down that path a little further and talk about the French. Perhaps this is some naivety on my part, but there is definitely something going on with them and I can’t quite put my finger on it. It started with French Kiss (a kiss with one partner’s tongue inserted in the other’s mouth) and while it didn’t stand out other than that the definition itself really made it sound more mechanical than sensual, it did lead to French Letter and French Safe, both of which mean “a condom.” That’s 3 words on the sexual side of things that all happened bang, bang, bang. So. French people, tell me what’s going on here. If “French” gets tagged on something, it has to somehow relate to sexy time? Is this a long-standing tradition or what?
In keeping with what seems to be this post’s theme… I also came across John Ford who was a writer of revenge tragedies e.g. ‘Tis a Pity She’s a Whore! While I haven’t read this particular book, the title certainly seems to scream “revenge tragedy.” Literally. It even comes with an exclamation mark. I’m thinking he was once a lover scorned and never quite got over it. But that’s just a guess…
Next on the theme… we’ve got the ever popular fornicate whose definition goes: “(of people not married or not married to each other) have sexual intercourse.” So… as an unmarried person, I can only speculate at this point, but this definition seems to reinforce the idea that tying the knot puts the ol’ brakes on a couple’s sex life… well, unless they’re doin’ it with other people, that is… apparently. If you’re hitched – you ain’t fornicating! Maybe it’s cause then… you’re making love.
PFFFFTTTTT! Yeah, right.
At least those married couples can still engage in Frottage (Sense 2 – the practice of touching or rubbing one’s body against the clothed body of another person usually in a crowd, as a means of obtaining sexual gratification) Ahem. You all know this is really just called dirty dancing right? Okay, I’m starting to feel uncomfortable about all these sexual references.
So let’s talk about fucking.
I got you a little with that one, didn’t I?
Fuck – (in sense 2) Curse, confound
The definition then includes an example of this which is “Fuck the thing!” – to which I can’t help but gasp in a quaintly Georgian-era manner. “Not…. (insert dramatic drum roll) the THING!” Also, it comes with a side note that it is “considered to be one of the most offensive words in the English language.” So I’m sorry if I offended you by using it. Well, only a little bit.
I think you’d be more offended if I said you could Fuddle Duddle because, despite how cute and seemingly-meant-to-be-said-by-a-six-year-old it sounds, it actually means “go to hell; drop dead.” People aren’t going to expect that. So the next time your boss makes you angry, just give a little shrug and drop a casual “oh fuddle duddle.” The boss will think you handled that situation like a pro and you’ll get the satisfaction of telling him or her to nicely go fuck themselves. Essentially.
There are clearly a lot of awesome things I’ve come across in the dictionary over the past few weeks. I will leave you with just one more, simply because it most aptly described what I was doing when I had The Behemoth hoisted high after reading Freud’s entry.
Galumph – (in sense 2) Go prancing in triumph
Weeks 21-23 Stats
Starting Word: fighting fit Ending Word: genetic drift
Total Pages: 624/1815 Ahead/Behind: -191