I love words. I love to study word origins. One of my favorite Christmas presents was given to me by my sister; it is a book simply titled “Word Origins.” This book is filled with words like Jingoism. I like the way it sounds-Jingoism. Then, when I hear it I play little games repeating it like a little kid saying, “jingoism and jingoisn’t.” I just think it sounds funny. It makes me laugh. Jingoist is actually a name given to British Patriots in the late 1800’s who repeated a little song with the words “by jingo” in it. Someone else liked the way it sounded; they made a word out of it.
It is also not lost on me that the word hysterical “comes from the Greek term ‘hysterikos’ which means suffering in the womb.” The Greek word for uterus is hystera. The decider of words said- ok hystera means uterus-women have wombs-women get crazy-we will now call this word-“hysterical.” Sometimes having a uterus can make you hysterical.
Then, my children sometimes ask me questions like- who decided that damn is a bad word? Or we all know that the word “ass ” is in the Bible, but we know that it is bad to call someone “an ass.”
Then, there are cruder terms. Terms that refer to sexual things. Things a lady should not talk about. I really don’t go around talking about these things, but they are there-in my mind and sometimes they come out of my mouth at the oddest times. Words are funny that way. It’s not like I am suffering from a neurological condition that prohibits me from having control over this-it just happens sometimes.
This was most evident recently when our car wouldn’t start. We had it towed to our mechanic and told him to let us know what the problem was. When I saw our mechanic the next day he informed me that it was not the battery ; it was something else. I told him that Allen figured it probably wasn’t the battery because when he had “jerked it off” it wouldn’t do anything.
Not many things embarrass me, but as I stood eye to eye with this man-one whose wife had home-schooled their five sons-I couldn’t believe what was escaping from my mouth. But, I couldn’t stop there. I knew I had said the wrong thing so I corrected myself, rather calmly I might add, and then told him I meant that Allen realized it wasn’t the battery when he had “jacked it off.” Still, he did not crack a smile. He just very casually helped me complete what I had wanted to say all along that Allen had tried to “jump off the car.”
By this time, I am trying to keep my composure- a very hard task for me, and my mind is racing -overcome with thoughts like-“there is no way I just said that.” When I did acknowledge my blunder he acted as if he didn’t even hear me and continued talking about the car.
Now this made me giggle. For God’s sake I had just told him that my husband had not only tried to “jerk off our car -he had also tried to jack it off.” How can you not laugh at that. When I began to giggle with embarrassment he still did not join me; he just said, “oh no it’s ok-hon.”
Well now I really got embarrassed because now it seemed like our dirty little secret. I just wanted to laugh about it and- get it out and over-apparently he did not. So, I bit my tongue, listened to him about my car and then got as far away from him as I could so I could literally roll around on the floor laughing at myself. I then called everyone I knew to share with them my eloquent way with words.
This man is still our mechanic and services both of our cars. But I swear I will never ask him for a lube job