Seeing a few hopeful signs. Flour is sometimes to be had. Likewise TP. Most people are wearing masks (homemade or otherwise) and keeping their distance. This is nowhere near over, so be careful and stay safe. For now, here’s a bit of free flash for a Monday. We do what we can.
Subject to Interpretation
By Richard Parks
“No, that’s not quite it.”
Kenny was doing his best, but it was also proving my point. Human beings just did not undulate. Snakes sort of did, if you overlooked the fact that their wave motion was side to side, not up and down.
“If I bothered to plot your up and down motion as points on a graph, it might resemble a wave. Without an artificial interpolation, it is simply you popping up and down like a bloody jack-in-the-box.”
“I saw a bellydancer once—“
“So have I. While I admit a proper belly roll is an undulation, it is only part of her body and temporary and has nothing to do with locomotion. Nor is any part of our bodies above the microcosmic shaped in an undulated fashion. Neither the direct nor alternate definitions of the term fit.”
Kenny glared at me. “I think you’re being a bit too dogmatic about this.”
“The very root of the word is from the Latin, meaning ‘wave.’ Words must mean what they mean. Neither more nor less.”
“When I use a word, it means exactly what I want it to mean, neither more nor less.”
“Said Humpty Dumpty before his great fall, written by a master of nonsense. When I say you did not see a belly dancer nor Elizabeth Morganstern undulate across a room, it’s because that’s physically impossible. Worse, you put a ridiculous image in the reader’s head and interfered in the willing suspension of disbelief. If you’re describing a physical action, it must comply with the laws of physics. Now, write it again.”
By this time I knew Kenny was long past regretting asking my help on his little essay, but I did try to warn him I had no gift for teaching. Writing? Sure, I’m fair to middling most days and borderline decent on others. But explaining how to do it? No. Yet in my time I’ve met people who could barely write a check but give them a lesson plan and one good example and they could turn out the next Tolstoy, or at least a fair humor columnist. It’s a different skill.
So as a tutor, I was a bust. All I could do was point out errors and bad choices and make my students do it again and again until they got it right. If only by accident and the law of averages.
Kenny typed furiously for precisely two seconds. “I quit.”
Kenny stormed out of my office and onto the landing. I’d swear I saw little storm clouds over his head. “Watch the railing—“
Too late. Kenny’s sleeve caught on a gap in the steel. He made a bad step and the next thing I knew he was sliding down the stairs on his belly. Curiously, his body really did make an almost smooth distinct up and down motion traveling from his nose to his feet as he bumped down the stairs.
Assuming he lives, I’ll gladly confess I was wrong.
©2020 Richard Parks. All Rights Reserved.