When I was younger, I delighted in words, in the turns of phrase that make a story worth reading or hearing. The way the right author could take individual pieces with independent meanings, and make them mean something that grabs at your soul and yanks it into a different world.
I loved being smart. I loved sounding smart. I may have loved that last bit a little too much and crossed the line into pedantry. I also learned – although I’m not sure who the teacher was – that an impressive vocabulary was not the way to win friends and influence people.
So I let go of my love of learning and utilizing the biggest of words and didn’t bother to seek out and incorporate new phrases any more. My vocabulary didn’t suffer in any way, but it didn’t improve, either. I didn’t much think on it, and seldom lately has anyone asked me what a word I used meant.
Lately, I’ve been wondering if I did myself a disservice. Surely, any person that I would care to be associated with wouldn’t look down on me for having a prodigious vocabulary, would they? Would I really want to spend time with someone who’d refuse to hang out with me if I used a word or two they didn’t know? And do I really want to assume that the people I enjoy hanging out with wouldn’t understand me if I went back to my previous mode of speech and continually strove to improve myself, words-wise?
The answer to the above questions is an emphatic no, of course.
I started thinking on this more in the last couple of weeks because of the delightful Cat, whose vocabulary and overall intelligence and education make me both a wee bit jealous anda little bit turned on. I pretty much want to have the same effect on people and since I’m not a gorgeous, ten-foot tall glamour queen like she is, and I’m not likely to ever be those things, my brains are all I’ve got going for me. (Well, if I’m honest, it’s brains and boobs. I’m generously racked.)