If I wrote like I were a truck driver, I would put my idea into the GPS, choose the shortest route, and arrive at my destination in the least amount of time possible. Instead, I write like a tourist wandering around a new city with the vague idea that I might go to the local zoo.
I put the address of the zoo into the GPS, choose the shortest route, and head off, eager to see the sloths and Gollum-like tarsiers. On my way, I see hundreds of billboards and decide to check out one of them because it won’t take long, and it’s right on the way to the zoo.
Tariser photo courtesy of motz
Three hundred and fifty-two times out of three hundred and fifty-three times, I never see a sloth or tarsier because I spend the day at a local winery learning about bâtonnage* or stop to fish for a few hours. While fishing, I notice four kinds of bobbers in my tackle box, and drive to the nearest bobber-making factory to learn how they are made.
In my last post, Compound interest, I put “new car” in the GPS and drove off. On the way, I noticed a sign marked off-ramp, began to wonder about compound nouns, and swerved at the last minute to see where the off-ramp would take me. It took me everywhere but “new car.”
Today I finally got there.
Several months ago, my husband and I realized my 1997 Bonneville might not make it through another winter. We are cash-only car buyers because I pledged long ago that I would never, ever buy a new car, and I never have, until I did.
I have cherished two reasons why I would not be foolish enough to buy a never-owned car. First, once you leave the DDR force shield that covers every car dealer, deadly depreciation rays (DDRs) bombard your car and reduce its worth by up to 9%. Second, I have no interest in paying interest on a car.
Our auto search led us to a car dealer to look at fully depreciated cars. Although I am a fairly good judge of character, I don’t know my Buicks from my Bonnevilles. My husband, on the other hand, has a caveman’s instinct for car hunting. He always spears the fattest, biggest mastodon available, and we feast on it for years.
During what seemed like three days, but were only three hours in caveman hunting time, my husband went over every inch of a brand-new double-tusked mastodon with shiny gray hair, several shades darker than his own. I pretended to look interested while he looked for cash on its back and something called an APR. Since it had a cash back and the APR search came up zero, we took it.
Arriving home in my first and last brand-new car, I realized I had entered fancy territory. As you know, fancy is halfway to schmancy. Or put synonymously, since fancy is the same as hoity, I was halfway to toity.
I had no intention to leave the hoi polloi (even if it’s a redundant place to be because it translates to the the many), and then my husband went hunting again – this time for his own mastodon. He found one – an older model exactly like mine, but in black. If that’s not hoity-toity, I don’t know my hoits or my toits.
Becoming fancy-schmancy or hoity-toity has required a change of attitude and vocabulary. I must move from being super silly to being supercilious. Rather than shouting out, “Holy cow!” when I see the price tags on shoddy name-brand clothing, I must exclaim, “Holy filet mignon!” To avoid identification with the double-articled hoi polloi, “Heaven’s to Betsy!” must now be expressed as “Elysium to Elizabeth!”
My hoity-toitiness will last about as long as autumn in Wisconsin. By January of next year, my car will be old and my newly acquired rhyming compounds will drop off like autumn leaves. I hope to grow some new ones, befitting my fall from fancyhood. Perhaps I shall be barely-therely, or bleak and meek, or squarely-sparely, or plain mere-here.
*bâtonnage is a fancy French word for taking a big stick and stirring the dead yeast in the bottom of a wine barrel.