Couch

Couch: (n) a piece of furniture for seating

Although I am just as guilty as the next man or woman of what we shall call “greedy” prayers—those wishes and supplications we make to God and the universe to improve our bank accounts—I am also fully aware that some of the best times of my life transpired when I was funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
unencumbered with the desire for finance, and found great joy in simply trying to survive.

There were many aspects of that process. Let me boil them down to three categories:

  • Eat
  • Sleep
  • Escape

When you’re poor, every day there is the need to find something to eat and also a safe place to sleep and something that is more comfortable than a cardboard box to rest your bones upon, and then, to have the intuition to escape creditors, family members, critics and anybody else who would try to “guilt” you into a lifestyle that mirrors their own.

Now right there, friends, is a full-time job.

If you do not have money, finding enough to eat, a place to sleep, and a way to escape the scrutiny of your adversaries will keep every child of God busy until morning’s light.

I learned the simplicity of finding change and turning it into a couple of dollars which would buy enough bologna and bread to make a meal—if I slipped out into the woods and picked myself some wild blackberries.

And I certainly knew how to circle a neighborhood and find a discarded couch which was heading for the dumpster and had nothing wrong with it except some dirt and recent rain that fell while it sat awaiting its execution.

That couch was fair game. It was rejected, left alone and on a public sidewalk. If I could jump out of my beat-up van, lift it in, and take it back to my location of rest, I could have a place to sit and sleep. There were times I broke out in tears over discovering a particular sofa that was so comfortable that it literally “couched” my aching muscles for many weeks.

I was amazed at what people will give away, throw away or discard because in their opinion, it got old too fast.

I was also astounded at how many doughnut places took their mistakes and day-old product and dumped them out every morning at 8:16 A. M.

And I was careful to swoop in at just the right moment, taking as little time as possible to procure a couch or a beat-up box of rejected doughnuts.

Poverty is an adventure in exhaustion which receives no applause for ingenuity.


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Bailiwick

Bailiwick: (n) one’s sphere of operations or particular area of interest.Dictionary B

The English language is in hospice, dying of the cancer of over-simplification.

All language is now based upon whether we like it, understand it or can easily write it down, rather than whether it is accurate or just plain beautiful.

For example, take the word bailiwick.”

I have personally never used the word in a conversation for fear that someone would think I was trying to be pretentious. But it is a gorgeous word.

And even though I do not use the word, I know what it means, so when I do hear some articulate human being express it, I am able to comprehend the meaning.

But as a writer, I find it necessary to sit down at least once a week and listen to a group of teenagers talk. After all, they are deciding where the English language is headed.

Occasionally I throw a word or two at them which I think is fairly common, only to be startled by their bewildered faces as they wonder why I decided to speak as if I were reading from a dictionary.

This may sound like a lamentation, but I will tell you that by no means am I a stick-in-the-mud who thinks America is going to hell one discarded word at a time.

But I do believe the preservation of certain language, and the ability to write with a bit of literary flair, cannot be completely estranged from our everyday efforts or we will eventually be a society that breaks everything down into initials, acronyms and slang.

So here’s to the use of the word “bailiwick”–at least every once in a while.

And also to the gentle patience which will be required from those who use it … to explain to the surrounding, dumbfounded hearers.

 

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Bagel

Bagel: (n) a dense bread roll in the shape of a ring, made by boiling dough and then baking it.Dictionary B

I like bagels.

Of course, considering the fact that I am a food addict, there’s nothing unique about that statement–I rarely run across any particular food that is distasteful to me, unless someone has over-explained where it came from.

One of my favorite stories about bagels revolves around my first journey to New York City. I was a little intimidated to be driving my vehicle in the huge metroplex, especially when I arrived at the George Washington Bridge and saw the back-up of traffic.

Historically, I have made great efforts to stay away from gridlock, because I have no desire to try my patience behind the wheel.

But since I was trapped on the bridge, I decided to make the best of it by looking around at other cars. As I inched my way up the ramp to the bridge itself, I looked to my right and left, and scattered all over the terrain, adjacent to the road, were little, tiny bits and pieces of discarded bagels.

I do not know why this specific location became a dumping ground for the remnants of the breakfast of hundreds of motorists, but there were so many pieces of these bagels lying around that you nearly could not see the ground.

So I put my mind to it.

Obviously, somewhere along the line, this area was bagel-free. God did not create the Heavens and Bagel Earth. In other words, the original earth was free of bagels.

So ONE PERSON decided, looking ahead at oncoming traffic: “Hey! I’d better stop eating this bagel and focus on this driving. What should I do with it?? Look! There’s a completely open field, where I can cast it aside and no one will be the wiser.”

Then the guy behind this pioneer noticed that his fellow-traveler was casting a bagel onto the turf and thought, “What a damn good idea!”

Perhaps thinking there was even some sort of roadblock ahead, to trap a bagel thief, he likewise tossed his.

This certainly created intimidation in Cars 3, 4, 5 and 6, as each one noticed what had to be presumed to be the official “Releasing of the Bagels.”

Of course, by the time eight or nine bagel pieces were thrown aside, it began to appear to the rest of the travelers that this was an official New York Bagel Dumping Ground.

So it certainly did not take too long for this region to become a bagel cemetery.

It gives you pause, doesn’t it?

Sometimes we think our individual actions are so insignificant, unnoticed and lacking in meaning, when actually, the first person who does something can often prompt a mob to join in.

 

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