OCTOBER 2, 2011 11:44AM


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by Jeff Sawyer, SawyerSpeaks

I was out walking the dog the other night – a protracted endeavor now that he is deceased – and thinking about a word I’d read for the first time:


This is not a sausage but a noun describing a feeling: world-weary, melancholy, with a sentimental pessimism; the sorrow felt and accepted as a necessary part of life.

Their eyes had met, and an inexpressibly sweet sense of eternal tragedy had passed between them, between their generations—a legacy of weltschmerz as old as humanity. – Kurt Vonnegut, in Player Piano

I thought, well that’s depressing. If we got rid of the word, just yanked it from the dictionary like a dead tooth, would the feeling go away, too? Can you feel something that cannot be described? Might reverse-engineering the lexicon instantly improve financial markets, job prospects, real estate values, Red Sox playoffs and spinach quiches around the country?

The very idea could legitimately be called


Optimistic, derived from Dr. Pangloss, the sanguine tutor in Voltaire’sCandide.

“Somebody Rachel Ray me, I need to be all Panglossian today!”

While we’re beating ideas to death here, why are piñatas only for kids’ parties?

Think layoff piñatas. Divorce piñatas. “Didn’t get in” piñatas for dejected high school seniors. Any time a nadir arrives in life, a piñata should arrive with it, stuffed with appropriate treats. You bash one shaped like an M.B.A. and all her business cliches fall out and everybody frolics all over them in stocking feet. Oh, we would frolic. We would be all


… stomping our feet as a form of applause.

I checked around and found this

unflattering piñata of Hilary Clinton at, where else, pinatas.com. But this still seems to be a market untapped.


Now there’s a verb that needs an exclamation point after it. It means to strip the pants right off a person. Which would leave them


… inadequately clothed. Surely that’s where “culottes” came from.

“Once more into the breach!” is the Henry V reference to a gap in the wall of the city of Harfleur, which the English army held under siege. It was a call to attack the city again.

“Once more into the breeches!” was a cry heard among women putting on culottes in 1975.


means the point at which one is past one’s prime. Could paracne mean too old for acne – post-zitteral?

Now I’m just bloviating.

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