Not surprisingly, I love words. Both real words and creatively made-up phrases. There are lots of supposedly official words that are virtually unknown but are super fun. Like ferrule, the small piece of metal that separates the pencil from the eraser, or zarfs, those cardboard sleeves that go around to-go coffee cups, and even phloem bundles, which are those long white strings on bananas under the skin when you peel them. Are these really “real” words? Well, if we believe words to be “real” when they’ve been added to the dictionary, then maybe…. but it depends which dictionary you consider the ruler of all. Most go by ye ol’ Merriam-Webster (who, by the way does not seem to recognize zarf). Interestingly, the determination as to when a word earns the right to be added to the pages of Merriam-Webster basically comes down to usage. The more often a word gets used, the better the chance it will find its way into the Official Word Hall of Fame.
When I was a kid, my brother’s best friend coined the word gription, as a combo between grip and traction. If you are slip-sliding across a slippery surface, you don’t have enough gription. He and my brother used the word so matter-of-factly that I think I was probably 16 before I realized it wasn’t a universally accepted real word.
Lately I’ve been considering the myriad of instances and everyday occurrences in all R.W.’s lives that really deserve to have their own words. It would be so handy to just have a simple term to help identify moments that might otherwise be described as “you know, I was trying to do that thing…”
Let me give an example. A few evenings ago, I attempted to take the full trash bag out of my plastic kitchen garbage can. And as happens so many times, there was some sort of magical force of friction (perhaps gription?) holding that bag in place. We’ve all been in that situation, where now with two hands, and maybe a foot, we are trying to push down on the can, pull up on the bag, wiggling it back and forth and likely cussing until finally it releases, hopefully without spilling the contents. I’m sure there is some technical term in Physics to describe this phenomenon, but I now call this Garbgrab.
Similarly, how about standing in the produce aisle of the grocery store, attempting to open those dang thin produce bags which by virtue of coming off tight rolls (and perhaps produced by someone with an evil sense of humor) leave one fumbling to find an opening. Eventually you start debating whether to just throw the loose tomatoes into your cart since you’ll be washing them at home anyway, and cursing that you left your re-usable cloth produce bags in your trunk, all while you rub the bag back and forth between your hands like you are trying to start a fire. I believe you are experiencing polystration.
When cohabitating with others, there are some common issues that crop up that deserve their own terms. Like when you watch a man put something down, walk away and forget it is there, so whatever that item is, will now live in that location forever –you are living with someone who suffers from invisaforgeta. And how many of us experience that horrible malady of not knowing what to have for dinner (or lunch for that matter) — and you ask your partner for ideas, only to get no helpful response, and you open and close the refrigerator door or cupboards over and over, just hoping inspiration will strike or something perfect to eat will appear because nothing is appealing at the moment – whew…. Let’s call all that nonsense FooWhut.
Dog parents out there – ya know those nose and slobber prints that get all over your windows both in your home or car, and show up especially well when the sun comes in just right and you are hosting visitors? Yeahhhh that stuff is Snerf. Closely related to dog or cat vomit, Gerf, and the drool puddles called Dralf. We all deal with it, may as well reference it in the same way so we can commiserate. “I had my mother-in-law over for tea, and imagine my horror when the sun came streaming in and the patio door was covered in snerf!” Or “Watch out, I was cutting up meat, so don’t slip on the dralf!”
And ladies, let’s admit to some of those aggravating issues that crop up when we are just trying to get ready for our day, and agree on words to describe them. Like even though we’ve put our bras on a gazillion times, there’s always that occasional morning, either when you are running late, or you are down to your oldest bra, when for whatever reason it takes about 20 tries to get the darn thing fastened, and you finally groan in frustration and move it around to the front to see what is going on. That’s Brasternation. For those of you out there who wear contacts, how about those moments when a teeny tiny piece of hair or dust gets on a contact and you have to keep taking it out, rinsing it, reinserting it, until your eye is runny and red and you wish you liked better how you look in your glasses — ooooh then you are fighting anticontactism.
I realize none of these will catch on like wildfire and become the next Merriam-Webster entry. But if enough of us experience the same things, and start using common terminology, perhaps we’ll create our own dictionary of helpful, expressive vocabulary. After all, the men in our lives already claim to not understand us, so it can’t hurt to have our own language from time to time, right?Let’s continue to be creative with ways to connect over shared experiences. We can start now, with recognition of the season that is upon us. That’s right, in about a week’s time, we will all have odd small collections of treats that no one really wants to eat after picking out all the good stuff. Generally speaking this includes such gems as tootsie rolls, malt balls and lollipops and we will be faced with the dilemma of finding opportunities to get rid of them without being wasteful. Let’s face it, we’ve got canduds. Never heard of them? Well go ahead, look it up.
It might not be in Merriam-Webster, but it sure could be in the Real Women Real Words Dictionary.