Keep your words soft and sweet in case you have to eat them

Posted 9/18/20

There are lots of big words in the world today.

For instance, there’s “encyclopedia.” I learned to spell that one from watching the Mickey Mouse Club — the original one — back around …

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Keep your words soft and sweet in case you have to eat them

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There are lots of big words in the world today.

For instance, there’s “encyclopedia.” I learned to spell that one from watching the Mickey Mouse Club — the original one — back around 1956 or so. Jimmy, the oldest Mouseketeer other than Roy (who was 111 or so at the time), the same Jimmy whose last name I can’t recall but who went on later to dance his way through the Lawrence Welk Show, the TV program my mama wouldn’t miss come Saturday night, had a little dance and song number about those books, namely how important they were to learning stuff, and how to learn to spell it.

You must remember that this was way before you could look up stuff online and before “Google” became a verb, as in “Why don’t you Google that?” One time when we were boys, my boyhood friend and chief advisor on all matters from the heart to the pocketbook, Bobby Joe High, said a word that sounded like “Google” and his mama washed his mouth with soap and made him sit in the corner while his family had squirrel and brown gravy for supper.

Then there was my school classmate who showed up one morning in the sixth grade telling us she could spell “Czechoslovakia,” which was impressive because most of us couldn’t have found it on the map if we’d needed to.

And then there’s “antidisestablishmentarianism,” supposedly the biggest word in the whole world. I’ve never used it in a sentence; only thing I’ve ever done with it is tell folks it’s the biggest word in the world. Had to look up what it means and according to the dictionary it’s a political philosophy opposed to the separation of a religious group (“church”) and a government (“state.”) Jimmy’s encyclopedia might have been useful here.

There are lots of other big words floating around and sometimes folks try to use one or another to impress one another. But I have decided of all the words ever created, the biggest is not the longest.

The biggest word in the world is “never.”

How do I know? Because it has affected me.

When I was a mere lad and when my mama was in charge of my nourishment — other than what I got at school and Sam White’s store — she at times would prepare meals other than my standing order of hot dogs or bologna, cheese, peanut butter and catsup sandwiches (seriously).

Those meals might include something I could or would eat — her fried chicken comes to mind — but more often than not, they included dishes such as boiled cabbage or turnip greens. On such occasions, I would omit those offerings if possible and boldly declare to my mama, “When I get older, I’m never going to eat cabbage ... or whatever.” Sometimes, I would say “I’m not ever going to eat this or that” and where I’m from “not ever” means the same thing as “never.”

On occasions, I have applied that same line of conversation to activities such as “I’m never going to mow the yard again” or “I’m never going to have a garden,” a sentiment I often expressed after following Mama through hers, picking up rocks as she turned them up with her garden tiller.

Now that I have advanced well beyond those tender preteen years, I’ve learned “never” is a word never to be used. The biggest example I got of that came one night some few years ago after I had resisted for years paying a dollar for a bottle of water. “I’m never going to pay for a drink of water,” I often loudly boasted to anyone who would listen.

Then, one hot summer night I found myself at intermission of a locally produced play. Concession stand void of Pepsis. Time running out. My throat doing an imitation of the Sahara Desert. So, forced by factors bigger than me, I caved in, paid the dollar and didn’t even get the big-sized bottle.

So, what’s the moral? I think it’s probably this: Watch what you say. Say what you do say nicely. And you’ll avoid eating crow, which I’ve never literally done ... and never plan to.


Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired longtime managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bivocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.


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