One of my childhood friends recently passed away. He spent the last ten years of his life in a wheelchair, as a result of an accident that occurred while helping a friend cut limbs from a tree after a hurricane in Florida.
He was a big man with a big heart.
I was asked to speak at his service and was honored to do so for my friend. Due to the distance, timing and honestly my fear of falling apart, I asked if I could send a video. My friend’s brother understood and told me that would be great.
He wanted me to tell the story of my friend Jerry coming to the rescue when I wet my pants in kindergarten. I did and also said a few more things. What I thought would take 3 to 5 minutes ended up taking more than 10.
My friend’s brother noted that not much more needed to be said after they watched it. It made me happy, but I, like Jerry’s family and friends still felt empty.
There were a couple of stories that I really wanted to tell, but didn’t feel it was right to take any more time on the video.
My friend Jerry and I played baseball together through the years and were on the same team when we were 13 to 15 years old. We got along well, just like we did in kindergarten. It’s nice to have a “big friend.”
In 1977, like every year I can remember while playing baseball, I collected baseball cards. It was a lot different then, you didn’t simply buy the complete set in a cardboard box and it was over. You bought cards a pack at a time, chewed the cardboard flavored bubblegum that came with the cards and discussed the statistics on the back of the cards.
I remember things like this because getting every Topps baseball card every year was a necessity. Not an option, but something I had to do. I did it one pack at a time. There were 660 cards that year and I only needed one to complete my set for that year – Topps Card #10, Reggie Jackson. Not many guys would simply give you a Reggie Jackson card.
As you probably can easily predict, Jerry showed up smiling before a game late in the season and handed me that Reggie Jackson card. I remember the joy it gave him to give it to me. And yes, I still have it.
The other thing that I treasured was the conversations with Jerry when we were shagging balls during batting practice. We would stand close enough together to discuss important things while our teammates were hitting.
Jerry invented words.
Not on purpose, not to be funny, he just used them in conversation. I’m bad to say, “I don’t know the word I’m thinking of.” He would not do that. He would simply insert a word that might be similar to the word he wanted to use, a combination of two words or just simply make a grammatical error while shagging balls. I’m pretty sure you don’t keep up with those on the baseball field.
We were at practice one day out in a big open field. I’m sure it had a backstop made out of chicken wire and bags of sand the coach had brought for bases. I shared with Jerry my interest in archery. At the time, I had a pretty simple bow that I liked to use to kill cardboard boxes and plastic milk cartons. I asked him if he knew where I could get a better bow and noted that a used one would be preferable because of the cost.
This was the day Jerry uttered a word that I will never forget.
Jerry responded to my question. He said, “You ought to check the moosealineous section in the newspaper.” He meant “miscellaneous,” but just couldn’t pull it out at the time – so he said something close to it. He didn’t laugh, make note of not knowing the word or even hesitate.
I didn’t laugh, correct him or hesitate to tell him, “That’s a great idea.”
This word will always be in my vocabulary and I know the proper emphasis to put on “moose” when saying it. It makes me think of Jerry and Captain Kangaroo’s “Mr. Moose.” It’s a happy word.
There are many words out there that folks just plain make up.
Rich Hall, a comedian who was on the HBO show, “Not Necessarily the News” in the 1980’s had a part on the show where he discussed “sniglets.” A sniglet is “any word that doesn't appear in the dictionary, but should.”
Some of my favorite sniglets from then and now…
Cheedle(chee' dul) - n. The residue left on one's fingertips after consuming a bag of Cheetos.
Choconiverous- adj. Biting off the head of the chocolate Easter bunny first.
Gromaxes(grom' ack sis) - n. Inside area of knees used to grip steering wheel when holding a map or atlas.
Hangle(hang' ul) - n. A cluster of coat hangers.
Ienvy(i-envy): the jealousy a person with a normal cell phone has when his friend or partner is on their iPhone. (My son has this when he notes, “I know Third Graders with iPhones.”)
Irant(eye' rant) - n. A seamless pistachio; a pistachio nut afraid to come out in public. (I love pistachios and can appreciate the need for this word.)
Opling(op' pling) - n. The act, when feeding a baby, of opening and closing one's mouth, smacking one's lips and making "yummy" noises, in the hope that baby will do the same.
Prestofrigeration- n. The peculiar habit, when searching for a snack, of constantly returning to the refrigerator in hopes that something new will have materialized.
Purpitation- v. To take something off the grocery shelf, decide you don't want it, and then put it in another section. You’ve done it haven’t you?
Testlice(test' lys) - n. Those tiny bugs that invade your hair when you're taking an exam. I’ve always wondered why my students scratch their heads so much during tests.
Yardribbons(yard rib' onz) - n. The unmowed patches of grass discovered after one has put away the mower. (My son seems to think his yardribbons are art.)
My advice is not to worry so much about picking the perfect word, friends know what you mean.
You won’t find “sloved” anywhere, but I bet you’ve done it. Slove rhymes with love.
If you’ve “sloved” your dessert with anyone, you know what I mean.
Slove(sləv) – v. To share food out of love, sometimes even feeding each other.
They ordered a barbecue plate to go, and sloved it with plastic forks sitting on the hood of the car. He let her choose which end of the dill pickle spear she wanted.
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