Friday, June 23, 2006

Wordsmithing (or, A semi-serious entry)

I like words.

I like to do silly things with words. One of the first inside jokes my wife and I developed was a strategic mispronunciation of "gnocchi," such that the "g" was no longer silent and the whole thing rhymed with "rocky." Thus we could rap on a door and giggle, "gnocchi-gnocchi!" and it was all very cute and fun.

For a while we signed letters to each other using words that almost rhyme with "love," such as "mauve," "larva," "knave," and "locomotive." This was all very fun and cute, until we ran out of words that almost rhyme with "love." So we moved on to words that almost rhyme with words that almost rhyme with "love," and then it just got plain silly.

I used to be a star on vocabulary tests in high school. I can still spell all the words I learned, but in the decade or so since the era of vocabulary quizzes, I've forgotten what many of them mean. Every so often I will come across one, like "raconteur" or "impecunious" or "refulgent," and I'll have a vague idea of what it means but have to sneak off to the dictionary for a consult anyway.

Yes, indeedy, words are wonderful.

It pains me to realize that there are certain words which are in themselves totally wonderful but have acquired totally un-wonderful connotations. I'm talking about words like "traditional," "family," "values," and "morals." I have grown to despise these words, for they have begun to invoke in me a panic reaction.

Some awful, hideous person out there is probably tittering with delight because these words have begun to strike fear into my heart.

But that awful, hideous person hasn't quite accomplished his/her aim. Oh, verily, the T-word, the V-word, the M-word, and the F-word strike fear into my heart, but not because I see any inherent conflict between any of them and my fabulously gay, fabulously committed life. No, I panic because my first thought upon reading these words is oh, shit, who hates us now?

And here's the thing. Most of the time these words occur in contexts that have nothing to do with sexuality. I am addicted to counted cross-stitch, a traditional yet decidedly unsexy pastime. Safeway often has the best values on basic food items, but sometimes I want to spend a little more for organic products elsewhere. You can't talk about Aesop's fables without mentioning morals. And the next person who tries to insist that a family can only consist of an opposite-sex couple and their descendents really ought to brush up on biological nomenclature.

So here it is, Pride Month and the eve of San Francisco Pride Weekend (I ask you, isn't every weekend Pride Weekend in San Francisco?), and my excitement is tempered by the fact that completely innocuous, positive little words have somehow become weapons of mass destruction.

By the way, and this is pretty disgusting, "Karl Rove" almost rhymes with "love."

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