Café

 

Ca: (n) a small restaurant selling light meals and drinks.

All of my life I have been surrounded by friends who enjoy discovering out-of-the-way, little cafes.

I won’t even mention the fact that these establishments usually last about six months before someone finds one down the street that’s
“cuter.”

I am a big person. (By big, I’m referring to the size of my body, not necessarily my soul.)

So these little places are tedious, if not arduous, for me to negotiate. The tables are tiny and the chairs provide a landing area for only one of my butt-cheeks.

Then there are the toy meals:

Croissants–which can be consumed with three bites.

A Danish–which doesn’t really taste that much better than the one I once ate at a flea-bag motel off their free Continental breakfast.

And of course, the over-emphasis on the coffee and tea.

My friends sit there, cross their legs and chat with one another, munching on the tiny provisions as if they have found a precursor to heavenly bliss.

I am uncomfortable. I am misplaced. I am a dog at a cat rodeo. I am an apolitical advocate who finds himself at a get-out-the-vote rally.

Over the years, I have learned ways to excuse myself from such awkward pretense.

So now when I hear the word “café ,” my brain just naturally translates it into “caf-nay.

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Bureaucracy

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Bureaucracy: (n) a state in which a few decide for the many

I find it extremely audacious and perhaps even pretentious to believe that I have any idea what’s best for me.

I may rail and scream, demanding the right to make poor decisions for my own life, but in my saner moments, free from vanity, I’m completely aware that I am inept at planning my own peace.

And it becomes nefarious to think that I, as a mere mortal, would have any goddamned idea what would be best for you. Yet for some reason, like early Spanish explorers who apparently believed that the world was created for them to pillage, when we get finished screwing up our lives, we feel mission-driven to spread that message of disarray into the affairs of others.

That is bureaucracy: malcontents determined to make other people just as miserable as they are–whether they do it in politics, by passing numbskull laws which are ill-suited to solve the aching need; or in religion, where they preach a God of love who is more picky than your Aunt Myrtle.

Bureaucracy is where we discover we are impotent… but decide to hide it under seven pairs of pants.

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Bravo

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Bravo: (exclam) used to express approval when a performer has done something well

Yes.

“Bravo” is more than a television channel of gay men going to art museums while discussing the perfect French croissant.

“Bravo” is a statement.Dictionary B

It has been meticulously segregated off from “nice job, you killed it, you the man and give me five.”

Rather, it is a highbrow declaration still unsullied by common culture, expressing devoted admiration.

It is unlikely that you will hear “bravo” spoken anywhere except among those who don tuxedos, over-practice their musical instruments and insist that their art is great because so few people appreciate it.

  • I have never heard “bravo” spoken at a football game–nor any sport, for that matter.
  • It is not commonly used at a hip-hop concert.
  • And though appropriate, an encouraging wife does not utter the word to bolster the confidence of her ever-learning lover.

No–it is reserved for uptown situations, where a certain quality deems it necessary for us to pretentiously speak our “attaboy” in a different language.

So what, in my environment, is worthy of “bravo?”

I don’t have to look very far.

Bravo for that sunrise.

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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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Apaches

dictionary with letter A

Apaches:(n) members of an American Indian people living primarily in New Mexico and Arizona. The Apaches put up fierce resistance to the European settlers and, under the leadership of Geronimo, were the last American Indian people to be conquered.

Sometimes I choose silence because speaking is such a minefield of “lip-slip-bombs.” It is difficult in this present age to know what to say or even what to call things without offending someone.

This is quite apparent with those original citizens who occupied the North American continent before the European settlers invaded.

(You see how carefully I worded that? Of course, I probably offended the Europeans, who would insist they “settled,” not “invaded.” Once again, you can’t win.)

But concerning these individuals, in my lifetime I have heard them called Indians, American Indians, tribal nations and Native Americans.

Even though I want to be as gentle as possible with the feelings of others, I think what we call them is not nearly as important as how we treated them, and how the treatment continues today with a sense of antipathy.

Yes, I think the American consciousness occasionally needs to be pricked by our approach to those who were here when we arrived and those we brought over from Africa to tend our fields.

We have two groups of people who have a vicious history with the white class, who continue to suffer under varying degrees of subjugation and prejudice to this day.

So I don’t know what you want to call them, and I don’t know whether it makes a difference if the Washington football team is called the Redskins or not. I think the true problem is does not lie in calling “Indians” and “Negroes,” or “African-Americans” and “Native Americans,” but rather, when you finish addressing them, the determining factor of your quality of life is in how you grant them equal quality.

  • What did the white man bring to the Apache nation? Disease, guns and whiskey.
  • What did the white man bring to the African? Slavery, punishment and the ghetto.

So I think it’s a bit pretentious to believe that simply because we choose the correct verbiage for greeting them that we’ve bridged the gap.

Actually, I would much rather call them Indians and Negroes, but love them as my brothers and sisters as opposed to referring to them by the popular lingo of the day … and sequester them in lack.

 

 

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Allegro

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Allegro: 1. (n) the name of a passage or movement of music in a fast tempo 2. (adj.) at a brisk tempo

I used to believe with all my heart, soul, mind and strength that appearing to be smart, intellectual, well-versed and verbal was essential in order to maintain the integrity of the self-deception of my general superiority. I did stupid stuff:

  • I lied about my qualifications.
  • I embellished on my abilities.
  • I touted my sexual prowess.
  • And I exaggerated the depth of my understanding.

I was afraid that the package of human ability provided for me was insufficient to my personal indebtedness.

One day I just woke up and got sick of being a fool. I stopped wearing the jester’s hat and dancing for the kings. I realized that the greatest gift I could give myself was to stop faking it.

The greatest gift I could give to God was to find a way to get along with human beings.

And the greatest way to get along with other human beings was to simplify what I shared with them.

You see, when I read the word “allegro,” I think of all the pretentious musicians I have ever met, who think they are extraordinarily sophisticated by expressing musical notations in Latin or Italian, which, when translated, still mean “fast, slow, loud and soft.” You see, the Italians were not trying to be “poofy”–it was just their language.

If you find yourself searching for a word to express a simple idea so that you can impress those around you, then you are probably suffering from a severe case of viral “jerkitis.” Especially if you need to say the words with a foreign accent or a bit of flourish in your pronunciation.

So when I’m discussing music in a recording studio and find myself surrounded by the “hierarchy” of the craft, I don’t use the word “allegro.” I merely say, “This is faster.”

Yes, often they correct me, using the proper term for such a maneuver.

But I just smile, knowing in my soul that the art of simplicity is the true definition of intelligence.

Affluent

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAffluent: (adj.) having a great deal of wealth or money

For ten years of my life I was affluent.

I lived in a big house, had extra finance, drove really neat cars and spent money on expensive lunches which I dubbed “business.”

Most of the money I utilized was not of my own making. It was inherited. It still spent the same.

I built a swimming pool in my back yard, had a gazebo in my front, and even constructed artistic decking to get from my house to the pool

What can I tell you about being affluent?

  • It’s like being poor except you only worry about money half the time.
  • You spend less of your thought process wondering if you should buy the T-bone steaks that are on sale, but you still get a bit of indigestion when you realize how much cash you extracted from your bank account–just to eat grilled cow.
  • There is a greater sense of loss, and much more pressure to reimburse what you’re spending because otherwise, you cannot continue the absolute facade of affluence.

I will not tell you that it was absent charm. I certainly will not tell you it was devoid of excitement. AND I will not be so pretentious as to lead you to believe that if it were offered to me again as an option for my ongoing existence, that I would not leap, in a stumbling way, in that direction.

But I can say that it really doesn’t matter.

Because of the money that I had, the thing I rejoice over more than anything else is that much of it was given away to others to produce lasting glee. There is something wonderful about knowing that twenty dollars does not mean much to you personally, but to another individual who is working minimum wage, it is a heavenly gift floated down on gossamer wings.

Pretty damn fantastic.

So I continue to work hard–not to build another swimming pool or purchase another gazebo hand-built by the Amish–but to make sure that I have enough coinage in my purse to surprise those souls who worked harder than they should have for less than what they’re worth.

I have maintained the best part of being affluent: I still get a gas out of giving.