When things get “intense”

I was looking at the main page of my blog at that fascinating “tag cloud” that shows you how often I write about which things and I saw the sort of smallish tag “being a dork”. The dictionary built into my MacBook says

dork |dôrk|

noun

informal a dull, slow-witted, or socially inept person.

• vulgar slang the penis.

ORIGIN 1960s (originally U.S., in the sense ‘penis’ ): perhaps a variant of dirk , influenced by dick 1 .

Which made me giggle. And reflect on the sort of terminology I use to describe myself. But that’s a conversation for another day.

Anyway, this is the story of how Noel was a socially inept person.

About six months ago I got to see MY FAVOURITE BAND as a birthday present from this guy. We had VIP tickets, which means we got to stand in this balcony area in the back of the venue. It’s great for a shorty like me because I don’t get stomped on by other concertgoers and I can see the stage the whole time. We were standing up there for the opener so the balcony was fairly empty. Jason started talking to a guy that I assumed was somehow connected to a band or something (he has a lot of rockstar friends). They began discussing a mutual friend and a love life that was getting “intense”.

Here’s a brief glimpse into how my brain works. Up until the point that the mysterious man said that word I had not been paying much attention the conversation. I was watching Dave Bazan and texting my biffle Pam. But that word triggered something in my brain. A pun I’d heard. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Person A: “Yeah, that movie was really intense”

Person B: “Like camping?”

Person A: “Shut-up.”

So, I pause from my furious texting, or twitter reading, or whatever I was doing and look up at Mystery Man, and Jason, and this other lady standing next to Mystery Man and say, “Like camping?”

Three slightly bewildered faces turn toward me. I guess I’d mumbled. Mystery Man asked me what I’d said, to which I responded, “Oh nothing, it was just a stupid joke.” He asked me to repeat it. “Like camping?” I said again. They were all still confused so I aided my joke by shaping my hands into a peak over my head and said, “In tents… like camping.” My face was, at this point, definitely blushing and I wished I hadn’t said anything, especially since I’d repeated it about twelve times (or just three). The responses of the three people standing around me were politely bemused (or in Jason’s case probably still bewildered – he usually looks at me like he has no idea what I’m saying). I started messing with my phone again and they Mystery Man and his wife left the balcony. Jason and I made to follow a minute or so behind him, but before we went I asked, “Does he work merch for one of the bands?”

If I was mildly blushing before, I definitely blushed after this. Ladies and gentlemen, I told this terrible pun three times to Deon Rexroat of Anberlin. Who inspired all of these.

  I don’t know if you ever imagine a possible interaction with a rockstar, but you probably envision it going a little differently. I definitely did. Here was a guy I’ve been listening to since I was 16 years old, who is part of the TWLOHA movement that I’ve followed since I was 19 and in the moment that I could have been at least moderately normal I came off very strangely.

  I’m not too concerned with Deon forever remembering me as an awkward interaction (I’m sure he has waaay more random, awkward experiences up his sleeve) but I do wish I’d been a bit more suave than gauche.

 Oh well, now I have a silly story. And it sort of serves as a moral for all those punk kids out there that like to throw puns in their elders’s faces – don’t use puns to be obnoxious, you may end up looking like a fool in front of a rockstar.

  This has been strange parable time with Noel. Rest in the knowledge that after this story she found five dollars and you won’t be bothered by her incessant rambling until 5pm Monday, July 11. Until next time, keep your ears clean.

Language

Last semester I wrote a short story titled “I Don’t Know How to Write the End”. Today, my biggest struggle is that I don’t know how to write the beginning. The problem is I’ve been so excited about sharing this video that I’ve been thinking about it all week.

My friend Michael put this video on my Facebook wall last Thursday along with the comment “I don’t direct this at anyone.” It’s a kinetic typography video from a Stephen Fry transcript about Language.

Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography – Language from Matthew Rogers on Vimeo.

I’ve long been a linguiphile. And though that word is not recognized by most dictionaries, and it would be just as easy to say  “a lover of words” I like “linguiphile” better. My cheerleading squad in high school called me “Homeschool” because I, as I put it, had “quite an extensive vernacular” and I put it to use, often during cheerleading practice. Most of the girls I cheered with were rather smart and knew what I was saying, yet chose to truncate their communicative skills. I embraced mine and was marginalized. No, that makes me sound like a martyr. They teased me. I got over it.

My friend Michael often teases me. The same class for which I wrote “I Don’t Know How to Write the End” featured weekly workshops. In one of these workshops I used the word “bacchanal” instead of “party”. I won’t transcribe the entire argument that followed between Michael and myself about the specificity of “bacchanal” vs. “party”. But I was quite miffed. Again, I got over it (quickly, no worries) and we’ve gone on to tease each other about much sillier things. But when he shared this video with me I chalked it up to a victory in my column.

Watching this video made me want to jump up and down in excitement. Finally, I’ve encountered someone who understands my love for words, my need to express myself in new and challenging ways. Not to rub my lexicon in other’s faces, but for the sheer enjoyment of words.

I have never read the Dictionary cover to cover, though I have perused it from time to time. And I did once read a novel about the genesis of the OED. I often wrangle over which word will better illuminate what I am attempting to communicate and I also admit that I use a thesaurus about 20 times for each blog post. I wish to avoid sounding redundant or silly. Which brings me to another video featuring Stephen Fry from his satirical A Bit of Fry and Laurie days:

I believe my favorite part of that video is when he exclaims, “And yet we, all of us, spend all our days saying to each other the same things time after weary time.” With so many words available to us for speaking, writing, communicating, why do we repeat the same things? “I love you” is an important phrase to repeat, people need to hear it.

Yet I would argue that it is also vitally important to use the argot you have command of to gently coerce others into a higher jargon. Or by using bigger words force other people to learn and use bigger words. Not for an intellectual parade of verbiage, but for the challenge of illuminating articulation, for the fun of

 the tripping of the tips of [our] tongues against the tops of [our] teeth [to] transport [us] to giddy euphoric bliss

      – Stephen Fry

Happy word hunting 🙂

I’ll see you Monday with another brand-spanking new original work post!

For further reading:

Don’t Mind Your Language