Words, Yogurt, and Smoke
I am a verbivore. Thats a word coined by
Richard Lederer, a famous linguist, to describe
someone who loves words. Thats me. I love
writing them; I love reading them. Spelling was one
of my favorite subjects in school. I once sat by a
campfire and diagrammed a sentence in the sand. I
am what many people (my wife included) call a
One of my favorite words is
neologism. That means a new
word. Neologisms come about because a word is
needed to describe something new and one just
sticks. Occasionally, they are intentionally
I learned a neologism from my sister and
brother-in-law. I dont know where they heard
it; it just began its long journey through society
until it someday reaches its ultimate goal inside
the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary (one of
my favorite books). The word is
ay-clue-iss-tik). The definition is
describing someone who not only has no clue,
but does not even suspect one.. While it has
little to do with the topics in this column, it is
such a beautiful word I felt the need to share it.
The best part of this word is that the people who
are described by it wont even get it when the
rest of us use it.
Recently, I invented my own neologism. I needed
a word to describe a phenomenon that I faced on a
regular basis. I asked advice from wise people I
knew and used their knowledge of Latin, Greek, and
medicine to create a new word. I must say I am
proud of our accomplishment.
The word is hyper-tasking. I think
the definition is obvious: the attempt to do
more than one thing at a time with the result that
at least one, if not all, of the attempted tasks
gets screwed up and chaos ensues. It can also
be described as multi-tasking plus one
or doing one too many things at the same time
so that nothing gets done properly.
Welcome to my world.
Take, for instance, the day I tried to get the
ground beef browned to be cooked later for dinner,
help Noah with his piano practice, give the twins a
small snack, and write a column. With the meat in
the pan, I got two yogurts out, put the music book
on the piano, then retreated to my office.
Daddy, we need spoons! Natalie
Oops. I got the spoons and went back to the
Why arent you at the piano? I
asked my son who was sitting at my desk.
I dont know what finger position I
should be in.
All right, lets
Daddy, Anna spilled! Natalie
Be there in a minute!
Its all over her
And the floor!
Alright! Just wait a sec
And the cat!
I cleaned the mess, and saw Noah on the
I got distracted by my book on the way
back to practice.
Back at the computer, I forgot what point I was
about to make when Natalie came in.
Who painted you with yogurt? I
With a grumble, I went to get a washcloth.
Dad! Noah called.
Get back to practicing!
What is it?!
Theres smoke coming from the
Then there are times when old words work the
best, even if I would rather my children not learn
them from me.
* * *
Women, it's true, make human beings, but
only men can make men. - Margaret Mead
Phillips is a Stay-At-Home-Dad and freelance
writer. Along with raising his four children, he is
developing a franchise called The Vacuum IS a
Power Tool. It is designed to help SAHDs
maintain that which makes us men, instead of hairy
Mom-substitutes. He earned a B.S. in
Communication/Theatre Arts and teaching
certificates in English, public speaking, and
psychology from Eastern Michigan University. After
six years as a high school English teacher and
Director of Dramatic Arts at Powers Catholic High
School in Flint, Michigan, he changed careers and
became a Stay-At-Home-Dad. www.TheVacuumIsAPowerTool.com
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