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Thursday, June 30, 2005 

Of words and associated memories

Today, while in the midst of doing a presentation, a colleague made a singular comment regarding the financial figures I was presenting to the audience. What struck me as odd was the choice of the particular word the person used to convey his disagreement. In fact, I found it so odd that I burst out laughing and could not stop laughing for about 2-3 minutes. Ridiculous, I know! I really need to find more exciting things to occupy my time with. Of course there were a lot of surprised faces around the table, but I just couldn’t help myself. It was clear that he disagreed with the numbers I presented, but when he yelled “Piffle!” at the top of his voice, I lost it. Who the hell uses a word like “piffle” in this day and age? I am sure the guy caused an anomaly in the space-time continuum when he uttered that word. I also leant that nothing makes people miss the importance of what you are saying than a fit of inappropriate laughter. Words are strange things aren’t they? They can hurt, they deceive, they make us laugh, they make us cry and a good word at the right moment can make a world of difference. There are certain words I will always associate with my grandparents and how they pronounced them. Others make me remember cranky neighbours, old friends, the neighbourhood drunk, the owner of the café on the corner, football coach, etc. Forgotten words – forgotten people. I remember when I was in primary school the grade 4 English teacher always use to say, "Gobbledygook", whenever one of us used a word inappropriately or out of context. She was an old spinster and it made the use of the word seem even more comical. I would sometimes do it on purpose just to hear her say it. Gobbledygook, indeed... how the hell this word even come into existence?! Hehehe… no matter how many times I heard her say it, it would make me double over in a fit of laughter. In turn I received a lot of detention, but it was worth it. Then there was the math teacher who would say, "Poppycock", whenever you were called upon to do a math problem on the black board and got it wrong. This one was a firm favourite with all the kids and we would break out in fits of adolescent laughter. Somehow the conjured up image of a penis perched on a stalk seemed an incredibly funny thing. Yeah, I was a weird little kid, even back then. Now the thought of it simply makes me cringe and cup my hands protectively in front of my crotch. I guess the piffle outburst of this morning unlocked a hodgepodge of memories that I had kept deeply buried in the recesses of my brain. Anyway… I need to fix the figures I presented this morning. And THAT is not funny at all!

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