Bashful: (adj) reluctant to draw attention to oneself; shyDictionary B

My Aunt Marjorie was the mistress of left-handed compliments.

Some of my favorites:

“Well, that little boy certainly has a lot of energy.”

Translation: “Can’t you keep your damn brat under control?”

“Your casserole is nice and salty.”

Translation: “I will not eat it for fear of kidney failure.”

“Those black people sure can jump.”

Translation: “Must be because they’re really not people.”

And of course, the one I heard over and over again. She would look me in the eye and say, “Well, you’re sure not bashful.”

Translation? “Sit down, shut up and let somebody else suck up some air in the room.”

Likewise, I have often asked children to tell me their names, had them hide behind their Mama’s skirt, as Mother proclaimed, “Oh, they’re just bashful.”

Shall we get something completely straight? All human beings are terrified–and if they aren’t, they’re probably mentally ill.

The prospect of being placed in the spotlight is not warming, but causes us to break out in a sweat.

And knowing that we’re responsible for our actions is enough to make us permanently inactive.

Bashful is not an emotional choice or a personality type–it’s an unfortunate profile that we occasionally find ourselves stuck behind because we do not feel prepared to function in the present situation.

Even though we insist that some people are introverts, we live in an extroverted world, where the squirrels who are too timid to hunt for nuts go nuts–as they starve to death.

Bashful is not a curse I would place upon anyone–it is the fear which forbids us from finding out exactly how far we can actually go.


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dictionary with letter A

Antipsychotic: (n) a type of drug used to treat psychotic disorders.

I believe the old saying is that “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

I don’t know if that means that fools are careless, or angels are chicken shit.

But I do know that ever once in a while, it’s important to risk appearing foolish in an attempt to focus on something that’s important.

So playing the part of the fool, let me state bluntly that America is nuts.

I know that’s not a clinical word normally used by psychiatrists, but it does describe the mishap of activity that is being presently performed under adult supervision.

Religion, politics, entertainment and corporations have lost all sense of morality and even any compass for productivity, chasing down either imaginary dragons or unicorns in the enchanted forest.

There seems to be a national sense of neurotic.

Now, what is the difference between being neurotic and psychotic?

  • Neurotic is when you’re afraid that you’re going to go out on the street and get robbed, so you end up staying at home.
  • Psychotic is when you stay at home and have a visceral experience of being robbed by imaginary thieves named Imogene and Darnell.

Here’s my concern: neurotic people can become psychotic if their neurosis is not talked out.

I believe we’re already on the verge of finding imaginary enemies that are chasing us down instead of having the good cheer and wisdom to tackle simple problems in our everyday lives. So more than ever, people are being prescribed medication for conditions that should be handled among our peers with comedy and conversation.

Yes, if we stop talking to each other, only texting and posting on Facebook, the little demons will start crawling out of the closet and begin to gnaw on our ankles.

So let me be foolhardy and tell you that social networking, the Internet and cynicism are tempting us as a nation to leap from neurotic to psychotic. Then we scratch our heads and wonder why somebody would ever go into a school and shoot a couple dozen little kids.

I know we’re concerned about tragedies like this, but I’m much more worried about the loss of humanity, the missing link in our species that creates brotherhood instead of culture wars, and the rejection of a gregarious nature, forcing us back into our caves, where we scrawl on the walls, admiring only our own artwork.

We will become psychotic, and then will probably become so alarmed that we’ll prescribe a national antipsychotic for the water system if we don’t learn to deal with the neurotic notions that make us feel superior to each other and afraid to merely use our abilities the best we can.


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dictionary with letter A

Acajou: {n.} 1. the wood of certain tropical timber-yielding trees, esp. mahogany 2. another term for cashew.

I’m not so sure I could identify mahogany if I saw it. Some sort of dark wood, normally associated with affluence. I don’t know why.

I DO know what cashews are.

Now most people would not think that cashews and mahogany have a whole lot in common, although I must admit, it would be wonderful to have a coffee table made out of cashews, offering a practical snack on the spot. But I don’t think it would be possible to break mahogany into little chunks, placing it into tin cans to offer as a part of a meal which began with soup and ended with nuts.

But since they share a common name the message that rings through to me is that we are much better off in life looking for similarities than we are focusing on differences.

In other words, if I stand in front of a group of people and say, “Mahogany and cashews are really different, aren’t they?” everybody would agree and soon we would be onto other topics with very little enlightenment, and also with me not coming across as very creative or intuitive.

But if’ I am able to find union between mahogany and cashews, then I have done something of quality, linking my world together instead of emphasizing the chasms between ideas.

  • How is a Republican like a Democrat?
  • How is a liberal like a conservative?
  • How is a Christian like a worldly person?
  • How is a woman like a man?

These are the kinds of questions that bring us together instead of tearing us apart.

Mahogany is considered to be a very expensive and durable wood. Cashews are the King of the Nuts, and even though the title does not sound particularly honorable, it does carry its own weight and flavor. So as I discover that mahogany and cashews do share the same name in this particular dictionary definition, I feel juiced up by the project of finding the similarities in their characters.

You can feel free to divide your world into smaller and smaller boxes until you’ve littered your closet with a whole series of unmarked packages.

Not me. I want to throw away the boxes and see if this thing we call human passage isn’t just a puzzle, trying to fit the pieces together … instead of tearing them apart.