Monday, October 5, 2009

Snails, Wood Pulp and Bacon

Newsflash: I actually used the word Sesquipedalian1 in a real-world, non-internet-y, setting.

How cool is that?

Okay, I have to admit it was my husband’s idea. We were filling out the latest in a steady stream of forms/checklists that seem to spring from the very air when you have a child with special needs. Seriously, every specialist has a new pile of paperwork that looks remarkably like the last pile, with some subtle changes in format or wording to make you think you’re filling out something new and amazingly insightful. I’m quite certain that these stacks of cellulose2 somehow breed and reproduce pale, fibrous offspring in the shadowy depths of their progenitors’3 filing cabinets.

Wait, I’ve momentarily lost my train of thought here. Where was this heading? Oh, now I remember.

So we were scribbling answers on yet another stack of pressed wood pulp when we ran across the inevitable question: Does your child have any unique interests? I’ve seen this question, or variations thereof, a hundred times. At least a hundred. Because when you’re talking about an individual with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers, you can bet your sweet bippy (don’t ask me what that means; I just know my grandpa loved to say it) that they’re going to perseverate4 on something.

So I jotted down the by-now-standard response, “He has a fascination with snails.” Yes, snails. Want to know about snails? Just ask me; I live with a 10-year old malacologist5.

I know, I still haven’t completely explained the fortuitous6 event that allowed me to suitably (that’s the tricky part, after all) employ7 my favorite word, but trust me, I’ll get there. Really.

Once I finished writing the typical snail comment I stared down at the big white space stretched out beneath my chicken scratches. Hmm…that’s a lot of white space. Seems like we should be able to fill at least a little more of it. But with what? So I posed8 that very question to my husband. The rest of our conversation went something like this:

“Write down that he’s a Sesquipedalian.”
“Well, it’s true, isn’t it?” Indeed it is. Our son collects words like some boys his age might collect Pokemon Cards or Matchbox cars. I wonder where he got that particular interest…
“Do you think she’ll know what it means?”
“She can look it up.” I should have guessed he would say that.

So I wrote it down, taking care to do it neatly because it’s far too special a word to inscribe with my customarily chaotic scrawl. It was such an exciting moment. I leaned back and surveyed my work, admiring the beauty of it, feeling as giddy as the proverbial schoolgirl.

1Sesquipedalian. If this word were liquid I would bathe in it. That’s right. I would fill a huge tub with warm, silken Sesquipedalian and completely immerse myself in it. Whew, is it getting warm in here? What, you want to know what it means! You can look it up; I’m a little busy right now.

2Cellulose. No, I’m not talking about the stuff that gives your legs that lovely textured look--that’s cellulite. This stuff makes up the better part of most plants. Our libraries are filled with stacks and stacks of tree cellulose, all mashed, pressed into tidy rectangles, and neatly bound. Good stuff!

3Progenitor. Sounds like an awesome name for a super hero, doesn’t it? The Progenitor. I can picture him now, in a dark green, form-fitting outfit emblazoned with a large, glossy black P. His black cape billows out behind him and he stands poised on the edge of the tallest building, surveying the city he champions. In a voice that rings like the bell of justice, he declares, “It is I, The Progenitor, he who came before and from whose mighty loins did spring all things both good and pure. Look upon me and witness your beginnings!”

4Perseverate. If I were to perseverate on something, say bacon, a typical day might go something like this: Upon waking in the morning, I slip out from under the bacon-patterned sheets on my bed, throw on a lovely robe with bacon embroidered along the collar, and shuffle into my kitchen, throwing open the bacon-print curtains to let in some sunlight. After a magnificent breakfast of bacon and scrambled eggs with bits of bacon, I head off to work where I proceed to enlighten all those around me about bacon and its many unique and amazing attributes (because I’ve learned new facts since yesterday or perhaps they’ve forgotten some of the many fascinating details I related on earlier occasions). Then I have a lovely BLT sandwich for lunch and get back to work, scribbling little pictures of bacon on the scratchpad on my desk while I try to think through a solution for a current project. At the end of the day I head back home in the only car in the courthouse parking lot that sports a “Honk if you love bacon” bumper sticker. After a nice dinner of potato bacon casserole, I curl up in front of the TV and watch a riveting documentary on the history of bacon and then, just before nodding off to sleep, I flip through the worn pages of a much-loved copy of “The Joy of Bacon.” And, if that’s not enough of a taste of both bacon and perseverate, check this out.

5Malacologist. These are the guys or gals who know what that funny little door on a water snail’s shell is called (according to my son, it’s called an operculum), how an octopus changes color, and the average number of tentacles on a nautilus. Want to know more about mollusks? Ask a malacologist.

6Fortuitous. Ooh, how did that happen? I didn’t mean for it to happen--in fact I hadn’t even considered that it might happen--but now that it’s happened, I’d have to say that it worked out rather well. In fact, I’m not sure it would have worked out better if I’d planned it.

7Employ. Yep, you can put a word to work just as you might a person.

8Posed. Picture a mannequin in a department store window. It’s all dressed in the latest finery, neatly coifed and positioned just so. Perfectly posed, right? Now try that with a question--except you might have to skip the coif since questions typically don’t have hair.


Diana Paz said...

Ha ha, you REALLY like the word sesquipedalian. Every time I've tried to say it out loud comes out sesquidepalian, which sounds like a prehistoric reptilian squid. Maybe just as cool!

The Sesquipedalian said...

No, Diana, I do not like the word sesquipedalian--I adore it.

It's a sexy word.

Far sexier than a prehistoric reptilian squid (though that does sound pretty cool). :)

The Celebrated Author said...

Ah! Sesquipedalian is MY favorite word, too! I use it whenever I can!

It just came to me that you do not know who I am, and I do not precisely remember when I started reading your blog. Was it perhaps off the NaNoWriMo forums?

In any case, I wanted to show you these:

The Sesquipedalian said...

Hello Celebrated Author! It's nice to find someone else who appreciates the power and allure of the word Sesquipedalian.

I'm glad you found me, though it wasn't on the NaNoWriMo forums. I haven't yet joined and I'm still debating whether I'm going to try to commit to NaNoWriMo this year. Still cogitating on that...

Those are some pretty amazing bacon-inspired products. I'm rather frightened of the bacon dress, but I think the bacon lunchbox is fantastic! I mean, what food wouldn't taste better after being tucked away in that?

Anonymous said...

OK - this was just FUN! I could read it again, and again, and again....

Not quite as good a bacon, but maybe as good as ham.

The Sesquipedalian said...

Thanks Anonymous! It is hard to surpass the wonder that is bacon.