août 23, 2004

"The hazy yellow evening bedroom emptiness"

I know it’s been a while, but I’m just going to get right into it.

I’ve been reading this fascinating, weird, epic book called Middlesex and just happened to fancy the following passage so much that I thought I’d share it. (Hope I’m not breaking any laws!)

The narrator’s grandfather has just died suddenly, and upon finding him, the grandmother is sad but also incredibly happy and relieved. The author writes, “Emotions, in my experience, aren’t covered by single words. I don’t believe in ‘sadness,’ ‘joy,’ or ‘regret.’ Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I’d like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say, ‘the happiness that attends disaster.’ Or: ‘the disappointment of sleeping with one’s fantasy.’ I’d like to show how ‘intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members’ connects with ‘the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age.’ I’d like to have a word for ‘the sadness inspired by failing restaurants’ as well as for ‘the excitement of getting a room with a minibar.’”

I was cracking up reading this, especially because it reminded me of the vocabulary that we as middle and high school kids used to create for ourselves. The one I still use to this day is “fauxpeal” (which goes hand in hand with “faux-hot”) constructed by the talented Cody to mean when somebody is sexy for a moment, but then not so much. Another is “mipiphany”, for when you have an epiphany which is so slight that it really only counts as a mini epiphany. I know we had more, but I can’t remember any others. (Cody, thoughts?)

What I love about these words is that they can’t really be written off as slang, because they’re not just “our little words” for something everybody else knows by a common name. They’re actual creations, words that define something previously unarticulated. Go us.

Posted by robyn at août 23, 2004 09:42 PM

I've been too long without my common cold!
Muchas gracias, senorita.

Also (and unrelated), I've been watching 'Le Divorce' on late-night HBO. One of its few interesting attributes is the characters often speaking French.

They keep using a certain casual phrase (spelled here incorrectly and phoenetically):
"Un puh" ... sorta. But you know which, right?
And I always think of you.
Pursed lips and perfect pronounciation.

Posted by: kati at août 24, 2004 01:29 AM

you're so sweet!
Could it be "un peu" which means "a little"?
That movie is fun until the end, when it totally falls apart.
But Matt Modine...purr!

Posted by: robyn at août 24, 2004 03:39 PM

Hmmm...I can't think of any other words besides "ala-ala-ala" but there are a few emotions that we may have been the first to voice:

the frustration of cutting through limes with a plastic knife

finding the humor in a friend's stolen property while relishing the dangers of a schoolyard at night

scorning the person who captures the attentions of the subject of our affections

Posted by: Cody at août 24, 2004 09:00 PM

that was fun, like speaking in code.
gong cong

Posted by: cody at août 24, 2004 09:01 PM

What about...

The overwhelming sadness and confusion of being attracted to your friend's "bi" boyfriend while being really high for the first time and sitting indian style?

The uncomfortable lovliness of being squished between two people you absolutely adore in a tiny bed?

The voltage one feels from watching the boy you like do something completely disgusting to woo you? (like sucking up water from a carpet)

(And also, what about "grambling"? Wasn't that a word of ours?)

Posted by: robyn at août 25, 2004 03:00 AM

you guys had sort of a john hughes high school experience didn't you?

Posted by: didofoot at août 25, 2004 08:26 AM

Hey, you were there too, sister! Except it seems like your grade missed out on the whole gay thing.

Posted by: robyn at août 26, 2004 12:33 AM

Yeah, it started with class of '98 and Contra Costa County's gay poster boy, Cody, and then just grew exponentially after that. Isn't there a rainbow flag flying on the pole now at CP. ;-)

Posted by: Clint at août 26, 2004 03:36 PM

You all are too quick to forget the Big D, and the countless coerced and conceded naked nights in various hot tubs.

So really '97 started it off.

Was grambling like when we tried to get someone to buy alcohol at the grocery store, desperate for schnapps to go with our Marlboros?

By the way, was the "bi" guy that asshole with the pseudo boyband name from Kentucky? (the room was red)

Posted by: cody at août 26, 2004 09:23 PM

no no no. I'm talking about Jonathan. (he wasn't rilly bi.)

I kind of forgot about Dan, but also he kind of doesn't count because...well, I can't seem to articulate why.
One too many Hanger Mandarin and sodas I guess......

Dammit Cody, you need to take credit for being the first out gay guy at our H.S, okay? Just deel with it.

Posted by: robyn at août 27, 2004 02:54 AM