Dog Days of Summer

The eastern sky was more black than blue by the time I took Jenni for her last walk of the day.  There happened to be just enough wind to cause unzipped jackets to billow and flap like fitted sheets pinned to clothes lines.  As our days shorten I switch on the flashing red bicycle light which I’ve affixed to her collar alerting motorists and pedestrians alike that a very purposeful Wheaton Terrier was strutting like Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever” so make way!  I too, had a beacon; an LED flashlight was tethered to my cane, its purpose was purely selfish.  It bathed the path with a subtle pale blue glow providing me with some degree of vision when we passed beneath the thick canopies of mature trees which flank both sides of the road.

It’s very generous of Jenni, allowing me to tag along on her thrice daily adventures!  Apparently she discovers artifacts and remnants left behind by ancestors perhaps, or, most likely the Dabner’s dachshund’s deliberate defection of its defecation which made me wonder if there’s a big difference between what dog’s leave behind and what smoker’s leave behind.

Overall the evening’s constitutional was deemed a success!  Jenni met a few new behinds to the neighborhood.  I met their owners and we made small-talk while our pets introduced themselves.  When my mood is heavy the mere chime of Jenni’s dog tags are like herald trumpets announcing a great adventure is about to begin.  When I see her so happy about a walk, it’s actually infectious, and I too suddenly become part of her circumnavigation of our block just like Magellan.

Some people think dogs smile.  I think dogs live their lives anew each day.  I’d smile if every new day was, in fact, a new day.

Wouldn’t you? 

The American Lexicon Is Fundamentally Evolutionary

We make all kinds of decisions every day.  I’d assert that a tenet of life is decision.

Decisions are based on a fundamental understanding of options.  These options are often presented through language.  Our language has mirrored our intellectual expansion during the past twenty years (since the commercialization of the internet), but it’s also exponentially increased the likelihood of poor decisions versus good decisions.  And not for the reason you’re probably thinking about right now.

It’s not that our decision-making ability has declined, it’s that our American English lexicon has been stripped of standards and replaced by Idiolects which are varieties of a specific language unique to an individual. In other words, how an individual (all individuals) use parts of speech specific to the language they’re speaking.  Huh?  Are you suggesting that we’re using vocabulary generally accepted but individually defined?

Yes, for example: I’ve had a great evening; would you like to come up for a night cap?  Twenty years ago you had a pretty good idea that the night cap meant some form of refreshment and m-a-y-b-e. . .But today a night cap most likely is prone to interpretation, and depending on the interpreter, the night cap might be the evening’s last tango which spins and dips and clutches its way to dawn, or the night cap might be the gut-wrenching sound of starboard iron scraping along larboard iron in a dense fog on a moonless night in the frigid north sea.  Both invitations were accepted but only one, the former, seemed to coalesce.  The latter was respectfully disharmonious and most likely eliminated any tandem future.  Okay, so what?  What’s this got to do with me?

We’re all assuming that what we say and what they hear are synonymous.  But in this day and age of individuality, identity, and me-me-meism which is reinforced constantly through internet-based social networks and the hardboiled, pragmatic, and mundane personal updates which someone somewhere will proclaim as unique (dismissing our language’s standard usages) and applaud their meism misuse (interpretation) of vocabulary, and whammo!  A word or phrase which held a generalized meaning now has a bastard son.  This phenomenon is known as Language Evolution Based on the Idiolectic Intersection of Individual Adoption.

So what’ve you been blathering on about?

Simply put: What you know you’re saying (standardized use) is being heard as something different (Idiolectic use).  Perhaps if communication was bipartisan (the talkers and listeners understand that their communication is reshaping the English lexicon) then we might lessen misunderstandings and agree to use a mutually standardized language in order to foster a sense of unity.

I Had a Car Like Me Once

QUESTION:
If you were a car, what kind of car would you be?

An old classic?
Something like the 1967 Aston Martin convertible?

Maybe the 1968 Mustang GT Fastback?

The car most resembling how I’ve been feeling recently happened to be our third car, the car like me.  We’d bought it used from some co-worker whose face (much less his name) has breached my mind’s curved horizon.  Used is a benevolent description: a couple of common idioms would aptly depict its constitution: . . .On its last legs or has one foot in the grave.  Desperation left little choice: I needed any car that worked to travel the 40 miles daily to a necessary yet useless and under paying job that freed me from beneath the spiked heel of a former employer who was a notoriously brutal, hateful, and infamously outspoken attorney that beguiled jurists to award her clients the largest financial settlements in state history.  Charm was never wasted on me, though.  Neither was persuasion.  She wasn’t the boss, she was the owner: I wasn’t her assistant, I was her indentured servant.  It was I who felt the eviscerating pressure from the pointy toe of her blah-blah collection of blah-blah-blah’s high-heeled shoe.  So I grabbed at the first job even though they’d lowball me and I’d need to buy any car.

The car, a foster child of sorts, had been purchased then passed on, then sold and sold and sold until the gravely agitated owner whispered the auto’s immediate availability for cash only.  And so I became the hastily orphaned auto’s benefactor.  Until that one day arrived (the last bead threaded onto the string), when, as no surprise, another function failed and the pertinent idioms came to mind like eerie messages in the Magic Eight Ball: Are you throwing good money after bad or Are you pouring money down the drain?  It all boiled down to a decision which I couldn’t face, so just like I did in the sixth grade when I was up to bat and had to face the gawky southpaw with a screaming heater which always caught the inside corner, or the lower back of a cowering batter, I fainted on my way to the plate.  I was removed from the game and poor Gerry Schmidt took a fastball in the kidneys. Procrastination is a conundrum best dealt with tomorrow.

But while I’m not a car, I’m spending more time in the shop and starting to string beads.  Unimaginable maladies have begun to appear (besides hum-drum mental illnesses): Edema of the lower extremities; rare forms of heart failure; pulmonary compromise; and rare to boot!  My conditions occur in less than one percent of patients!  Rare is a good thing, right?  Not in medicine.  Rare means few, few means no research, no research means no remedy.

I’ve been feeling lately like a mid-year 1983 Buick which runs, starts in the coldest Chicago winters, and does what a car should do.  Yet recently I’ve heard more pings, louder knocks, noticed oil spots on the garage floor, and the lighter no longer glows orange.  That’s why I’ve been posting less frequently: I’m fatigued, terribly sad witnessing this decline, and frightened.

But to end on a bright note, here’s the car I’d be: a 1965 Cadillac Eldorado!