Billiards

Billiards:(n) a game usually for two people, played on a billiard table

Dictionary B

I grew up in a small village that was close enough to a nearby larger town to make all of the young folks feel out-of-step and inadequate.

We had to go to the bigger city to be entertained or to absorb any available culture that might accidentally trip through mid-state.

So when we drove our cars in the direction of the nearby metropolis, we felt a combination of empowerment mingled with humiliation. We certainly were convinced that everyone in the larger burg was aware that we came from smaller digs and therefore lacked the social graces to be able to hold our own with the natives.

But we went anyway. It was the nearest bowling alley.

Bowling was very important. It gave you a safe, cheap way to go on a date, where conversation could be channeled into laughter over the lack of ability to roll a ball down an alley.

Now, in the back of this bowling alley was a small pool hall. It was a new addition, and some of the young folk from our town were a little bit afraid of going to play this game of billiards because it was associated with lower-class or “hoodlum elements.”

So I had great trepidation the first time I went into the billiard section of the bowling alley, picked up a stick and tried to hit the cue ball.

Yet I quickly became addicted.

Matter of fact, almost every weekend I went to play billiards, which we called pool, with my friends, until we thought we had become so good that we believed we could actually compete with other “stickers.” (That’s what we called them, even though I’m sure no one else did.)

One night five guys from the big town came in, saw us playing, and challenged us to a tournament, the winner to take ten dollars.

We were gambling. We felt so grown-up. And ten dollars was all any of us would have for the next two weeks.

But we were confident. After all, we had already played two months worth of Saturday nights.

We lost.

Miserably, horribly and ferociously, as balls banged into each other, going in all directions, causing our heads to spin, eventually exposing our choke factor.

We left.

We were ten dollars poorer and more certain than ever before that “small-town Johnnies” need to be careful when playing with big-town bullies.

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Badminton

Badminton: (n) a game with rackets in which a shuttlecock is played back and forth across a net.Dictionary B

My parents were so conservative that they didn’t allow us to refer to it as a “shuttlecock.”

They felt that was inappropriate.

Although they certainly wanted me to play badminton (which I found out later was due to the fact that it was so cheap to buy and maintain, and that no net was really necessary–you could just hit it over a clothes line) they were not pleased with the name given to the..well, what they called the “birdie.”

Of course by the time I got into high school, the word birdie made us giggle.

Without reservation, I will tell you that I basically hated the game. There was no skill involved in it unless you weighed about thirty pounds and were willing to run great distances brought about by the erratic flying of the shuttlecock. (Now I’m just saying it to rebel against my training.)

And it was very difficult to hit the thing right on its little nose, where it would fly straight. And then, upon striking it with all your might it would barely ascend five feet into the air before crashing onto the ground to avoid further abuse.

I was a big boy, so I normally found myself taking the tiny racquet and flailing in the air, and then making contact with the birdie sideways, on its wings, therefore having it fall. useless and dead.

I once saw a badminton tournament, and people seemed to know how to hit the thing and make it soar a great distance. But I must be honest–I had no curiosity whatsoever to ask them how they achieved this feat.

Badminton, like so many other things from my youth, was soon abandoned … and even more quickly forgotten.

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Adieux

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Adieux: (n.) from Old French, another term for “goodbye.”

I think it’s the whole “another term” thing that bothers me.

We all know people who think they’re extraordinarily clever by coming up with a new word, new phrase or new angle on saying or doing something that is common to the crowd. They insist on spelling it “ketchup” instead of “catsup.” They will argue with you that the pronunciation is unique and obvious.

I don’t like it when people go into foreign languages to express a word–greeting or departure–that is not their own tongue–and is one of seven words they know in that other language.

Thus, “adieux.”

When you look at it in the context of the dictionary, it seems fascinating. When you speak it aloud it is pretentious.

“I bid you a fond adieux.”

Such a person is a prime target for de-panting, mocking, gossip or alienation from the Bingo tournament based upon the various ages in his or her life.

I think we have to be careful not to be TOO common, so as to make ourselves invisible, yet not choose to become so bizarre that people avoid us for fear that we’ll have a psychotic break at any moment.

I think that’s why the word “common” and “sense” go SO well together. It is a decision to join the human race while being willing to learn how to run better.

That would not be “adieux.”

I must warn you–if you ever use it around me, I will smile, connoting to you that I found it intriguing, only to laugh at you … when you sashay from the room.