Words make comebacks too!
| My biggest worry is that the onset of cold weather will freeze the ground. The right half of the back forty is now impenetrable mud. The Panzer Corps opposite cannot get through; their tracks stick in the goo and leave their tanks easy marks for the Molotov cocktails of the partisans. On the left flank where the higher ground is prominent, Chekhov’s 6th Corp holds the line.|
What the hell am I talking about? There’s no army coming through my field. All I have to do is step out on the deck to see that, but I am more absorbed with the fact that the cat was too busy hunting a mouse to greet me and demand yogurt when I arrived home from an overnight stay in the south. The dog had spent the same night in the hospital, the result of an injury to her back. She would be back soon; pain-killing pills would allow her to resume her normal life of sleeping, eating and watching for the Federal Express man.
On my sojurn I had been fed properly for the first time since my previous visit the week before. General Winter defeats most of my efforts at cooking. My dinners dissolve into choosing from the two basic food groups: ground beef and pasta, and I don’t mix them. The dog likes ground beef, but does not care for starch. Meat loaf and chili are the hamburger meals of choice. I eat the leftover chili, but she loves my meat loaf. When I tire of chili, pasta with garlic and oil, or with pesto and olives is the preferred choice.
My hostess tried a different tack. I watched her cut up and brown Italian sausage in olive oil, add a large can of tomatoes, onions and fresh squash and set it to cook. It was a meal fit for a starving writer, but then I saw her put sliced mushrooms in another pot, add some wine and saute them while at the same time, starting a package of pomme frites in the oven. When she began to annoint a huge piece of steak with seasonings, I began searching her closets for the army that had to be hidden somewhere. She laughed and said the feast was all for us, and not to worry, she loved leftovers, and, in addition, there was a store-bought apple pie for dessert.
To prepare us for the latter, we took a walk about town after the main course. Usually a brisk hike in late January would be done wearing heavy coats, gloves, thermal underwear and ski masks, but this night we barely needed jackets. We competed telling amusing stories as we marched. Bystanders would catch bits and pieces of her problems at the Canadian border when she was nineteen, or my affair of smuggling Zlotys out of Poland. None were that interested that they followed and heard the conclusions. We were caught up only in our self-fascination that led to apple pie, snuggling and a night of sleep.
Morning came as it always does. I dreaded returning to battle, but duty called. When I arrived at the front lines, I realized it had been a week since I sent off a dispatch to my friends. To my horror as I read over this missive, I saw myself slipping back into the same themes as the last posting. Worse, where was this military bent coming from? Good God, I realized. I was BLOVIATING.
The word bloviate and its deriatives bloviation and bloviator are all over the Internet today. Pundit A does not agree with Anti-Pundit B but rather than destroy the argument with logic, he writes that B is bloviating. As for me, I could not get the word out of my head. Naturally I set it to music. Not my own music, mind you, but some ditty from back in the 1970’s about celebrating:
Dance to the music
I ‘Googled’ the word and found reference to “Word of the Day”, June 22, 2001. Bloviation is the noun form, and, of course, a ‘bloviator’ is one who bloviates. For those not in the know, to bloviate is ‘To speak or write at length in a pompous or boastful manner.’ It is made up of the word ‘blow’ and the “mock Latinate suffix” ‘-viate’. The word was closely associated with President Warren Gamiel Harding, “who used it frequently and was known for long windy speeches.”
Harding died under mysterious circumstances in 1923, his administration about to be overwhelmed by the Teapot Dome and other scandals. Bloviation went into hibernation for many years. Bloviate is not even listed in a 1,240-page dictionary published in 1960. “Word of the Day” first refers to a 1984 New York Times article, and then forwards to 1997 when it appeared in American Spectator. Surely tomorrow it will pop up in a beer commercial.
It is only fitting in these days of Enron that Harding’s ghost should reappear from a Ouija board by way of the Internet. What a confluence of history! Then “Word of the Day" provides an imprimatur on June 22, 2001, sixty years to the day the Wehrmacht invaded Russia. Is that why Guderian’s Panzers are massed in my field? They are hard to see in the mist, but I know they are there, waiting for the ground to freeze.
Let them come. They shall not prevent me bloviating for what I calculate is the 166th time but it has to cease lest I join Harding. I will resolve to stop being pompous and boastful. I will stop writing until I become properly humble and can find another topic but cats, mice, dogs or traveling. I will resurrect another specter from 1923, Emile Coue: “Every day in every way, I get better and better.” But first, to the trenches!