I Have A Lover

I love language, and because English is the lover I grew up with, I love her best.  She’s subtle and sensible in slingback Louboutins and knee-torn Levis.  She can dance all night, gliding like a princess or grinding the stage burlesque or rustling between the trees like a black wind witch.  Because she is a witch — with conjures that — in magic — change her words to whatever she wants, whenever she wants them.  Yet she prefers straight talk — prepositions and modifiers that let you know exactly where and what and when — even if it isn’t now.

And my lover is a thief, stealing without remorse.  A freebooting pirate who, with cutlass in hand, takes the words she needs — and more — just because she can, gloried by the theft.

She’s an inventor.  Eagerly seduced, she will abandon herself to satisfy whatever necessity desires.

She is a mechanical engineer who fits strange words together with invisible nano-weld precision, producing new tools that exactly fit their employment.

But she’s also a glutton who dines at her sisters’ banquets, selecting the most delicate morsels to claim as her own, licking the tips of her fingers and never tiring of the feast.

Yet my lover remains lean and strong, hunting with the predators, hair flying, howling with the chase, sure-footed and agile.  

And she can be angry, too.  Her voice as fierce as cracked open thunder, her eyes black with homicide.

But she is always a flirt, tempting, enticing, inviting the wanton need to touch and hold and caress the words she speaks.

And she is always beautiful: sometimes drowsy as the sleeping mists of fog on the dawn forest floor; sometimes sad as a puppy’s tears, sometimes quiet as a spider’s abandoned threads and sometimes gauze angel white in the shimmering starlight.

But mostly, my lover loves me.  She laughs and sings and listens.  She speaks only truth (and the occasional lie.)  She stays with me even when I’m foul with blank page fury.  And when I have no words for her – when I’m on the edge of the wilderness, lost and alone, it is she who comes and finds me, and she takes my hand and whispers, “Let’s go home.”

BUT . . .

The most powerful word in the English language is “but.”  It’s a grammatical Liam Neeson with a very particular set of skills that kicks ass.  It’s way better than that greedy little “and” who’s always looking for something extra the minute he shows up.  And, don’t get me started on “or:” grammar’s Hamlet, who couldn’t make a decision if his life depended on it.  No, for sheer conjunctional word power, go with “but” every time.  Here’s why:

1 – “but” sugarcoats the punch in the face — When you want to rip somebody a new one but you don’t want them to get so angry they go home and get a shotgun, throw in a “but.”  For example: “Jennifer, you are one of our most valued employees, conscientious and hard-working, BUT you have the math skills of a goat, and if you don’t get with it, I’m going to fire you so hard your grandchildren will be unemployed.”

2 – “but” pleads your case — When you know you screwed up and you’re looking around for something else to blame, use “but.”  Once again: “I know I drove your car into the side of that guy’s house, BUT you didn’t tell me it had sticky brakes when I borrowed it.”

And if you play #2 correctly…

3 – “but” can even get you off the hook — “Normally, I’d pay for the repairs to your car, BUT if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have ever known about those bad brakes.  Actually, I did you a big favour.”

Also

4 – “but” lets us look on the bright side — When your situation seems about as bleak as the slums of Mordor, try “but” to turn the lemon into lemonade.  “Hey, bro!  Sorry I had sex with your wife and your little sister last month after your birthday party, BUT they both phoned today, and guess what?  They’re not pregnant.  Cool, huh?”

And finally the most badass tool of all:

5 – nothing important ever gets said until someone says “but.” — In any conversation, discussion or argument, you can discount everything that’s said before “but.”  In fact, you don’t even have to listen.  Check it out:

“I understand your point of view, but only the part that happened before you opened your mouth.”
“Of course I agree, but not enough to quit arguing with you.”
“That’s an interesting opinion, but I’m not all that familiar with LooneyTunes cartoons.”
“Certainly, this current refugee problem is a crisis of biblical proportion and Western governments have a moral obligation to offer as much assistance as possible but what are all these gypsies, tramps and thieves doing in my country?”
“I like pasta, too, but there’s no way I’m eating that Italian glue tonight.”
“I’m not a racist but, man, those people are weird.”
“I love you dearly, but if you leave the toilet seat up one more time, I’m going to shoot you in the head.”
Etc. etc. etc.

So here’s to you, “but,” you sassy little conjunction!  Thanks for always being there for us.

Originally written November, 2015

Let’s Write Something

moon

Okay, okay, okay! We’ve all been stuck with our four walls and families for an eternity, and it’s beginning to wear thin.  We’ve cleaned out the fridge, we’ve cleaned out the garage, gone through 8 years of emails and binge-watched 6 years of television.  We’ve organized the towels by fluffy, the food by expiration date and the underwear by number of holes.  We’ve done all those stupid patio exercises and gained 5 kilos (11 pounds.)  We’ve taught the kids all the math we remember and nobody normal cares how long the 30 Years War was.  The dog is refusing to go “walkies,” and somebody stole the chocolate you hid in the tampons box (Steven, you bastard!)  So, now what?

This is the perfect time to write a national anthem for The Moon.

Think about it! You definitely have some time on your hands.  You wrote poetry when you were young, “moon” rhymes with everything (“swoon,” “June,” “raccoon”) and you can just steal the music from the public domain (“Moonlight Sonata,” perhaps?)  Plus, how cool would it be to be the person who wrote the national anthem for The Moon?  Like Way Cool!

The truth is, even though The Moon is central to the tides, the calendar and romantic love, humans have always treated it badly.  For example, there are 181 moons in our solar system — from Ganymede (bigger than the planet Mercury) to Deimos (smaller than Liechtenstein) — and every one of them has a name — except ours.  Ours is just “The Moon.”  C’mon folks!  Make an effort!

Meanwhile, people always say weird stuff happens whenever there’s a full moon.  Hey, that’s celestial profiling.  Venus doesn’t get that kind of abuse, and it spins backwards, for heaven’s sake.

Then there are the million and one songs supposedly written about The Moon that aren’t actually about The Moon, at all.  We have blue moons, harvest moons, moons hitting your eye like a big pizza pie and even bad moons rising — but nothing about The Moon itself.  You never hear lyrical lines like, “From thy rocky cratered majesty/Across your lifeless plain.”  Nobody ever sings that stuff.  No, Moon songs are always about love or lonely, or “My God, you make me horny.”  We look at The Moon and gush our emotions all over the place like water from a runaway garden hose, but when it comes to praising our shiny little friend, suddenly everybody’s mute.

However, even though we’ve treated our closest neighbour despicably for centuries, that isn’t the reason we need a national anthem for The Moon.  Here’s the deal!  The way things are going here on Earth, we’re probably going be living up there sooner than we think.  So, rather than getting caught with our pants around our ankles like we did with Covid-19 — let’s get prepared!

God save our gracious moon
Long live our shiny moon …

How am I doing?