the word was absurd

[think kit. day twenty-nine]

NEW YORK — For a long time, my default descriptor was Absurd.

“It was abSURD,” I’d say ten times throughout two-hour phone calls with Matt. It was 2009, and we nurtured the early months of our relationship despite a three time-zone gap. I in Portland, Ore., he in Carmel, Ind. Eventually he called out my over-reliance on the word and its runner-up, Ridiculous.

For several months, I consciously pushed it from the tip of my tongue, until it wasn’t my go-to. These things cycle. Recently, I realized I use the phrase, “I can imagine,” as a substitute for the conversation filler, “I understand.” It struck me yesterday when I said it twice during one two-minute chat. That’s getting the boot.

I’m not alone in this. One of my good friends has turned to Bizarre for years, though it’s an endearing personality trait at this point. No matter how many times he says it, his Bizarre assessment still sounds genuine.

Over the last several months, I’ve adopted two standby expressions, neither of which is found in a dictionary. One is onomatopoeic, a way I vocalize my quirky personality; the other is an inquisitive mashup.
mrrh(interj.) conveys awkwardness; a verbal shrug.
“I repeatedly fumbled the chopsticks while trying to eat my sushi. Mrrrh.”
s’wha (interrog.) what, what’s that, say what?
Woman: There’s a man across the street dressed as Superman.
Man: S’wha?

In terms of real words, I distinctly recall looking one up. I mean, I look words up more than once a calendar year, but this was one of those times I was writing faster than I seemed to be thinking. I paused when I typed a word I wasn’t sure I understood. It flowed from my brain to the document, but I couldn’t think of its definition. It’s like when you’ve read or heard a term for years without ever stopping to think about whether you comprehend it, so you avoid using it in conversation, lest you embarrass yourself. (Or does that just happen to me?)

ubiquity ( n.) constant presence. everywhereness. (I know I’m using a fake word to define a real word. Somewhere, the English language overlords are discussing the potential invalidation of my bachelor’s degree. So be it.)

I love that ubiquity came to me before I searched for it, that I knew the perfect word without actually knowing it. Writing and words are fun like that.  I suppose I’d be in the wrong profession if I thought otherwise.

[Think Kit Dec. 29 prompt: What word(s) did you learn or make-up this year? How did you learn it or create it? Did you start using it?]


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