Things and other whatchamacallits.
By Sue Langenberg
It occurred to me the other day that I have put fewer and fewer nouns in each sentence. “The quick brown fox” of old typing exercises has now become “The quick brown thingamajig” that “jumps over the lazy whatever.” The verbs I remember. “Quick” is how fast you run from back door to bathroom and “jumps” means something we did long ago when there were springs in our steps. Otherwise, most of the alphabet is there.
When I discuss this with a like hag, for instance, I say a round of “you know”’s, snap my fingers and bonk my head against the wall until we both reach an agreement that we know what that questionable “thing” is. I grab into thin air and reach into the farthest recesses of my crossword puzzled brain and still can’t find the noun.
It’s not that we don’t know what we’re talking about, we just can’t remember what that thingamajig is. Or maybe it’s a variable speed kind of thing where our brain keeps traveling ahead while the nouns fall out of our ears, like they claim what happens to school children during the summer vacation.
I had a high school classmate whose brain did exactly that. He charged ahead with his verbal energy a mile a minute describing how many “Va va-rooms!” that his souped up Mustang did, but the words were left in the dust so that he had to provide a grunting filler. I noticed that he was still doing that at our 40th class reunion. I didn’t let on that I was amused, but wondered if those “Va va-rooms!” were still in the dust of the ’60s. Many of our brain cells are, after all, since they say if you remember the ’60s, you weren’t really there.
My eight-year-old grandson does the same thing. He can’t provide enough respectable words in sentences about dinosaurs fast enough, so he lingers with some “ums” until the next adjectives about dangerous and deadly reptiles come upon his sentence flow.
Then there are some nouns that have popped up these days that only tech geeks have invented and understand. My computer repair guy explained to me what parts were fried after a recent electrical storm. I didn’t understand a single noun in any of his sentences. I didn’t hear anything about intestines or kneecaps, falling chins or rising blood pressure. Just thingamajigs and whachacallits and alien nouns.
The computer guy said that I wasn’t supposed to know about those nouns; I told him we’d be in serious trouble if so. “Just stick to the regular nouns,” which I can’t remember right now, anyway.
So when it comes to us hags, it’s the nouns, the nouns. A thing, you know, that thingamajig. Some words I actually developed a mental block about, or rather a snarl in my brain. Hydrangea is one of them. I couldn’t for the life of me remember the blooming plant from year to year. I realize that this “thing” is of little consequence to most, but just because I have a blooming snarl in my brain doesn’t mean I should forget a perfectly honorable plant. If I were casually looking at the flower, my head would spin into a tornado, an encyclopedia would fall out of my ears until a blank appeared. Finally, I resort to my daughter who rolls her eyes at such a mother who would forget an important plant. This would be the same daughter who doesn’t remember her entire high school because of oversleeping and zits.
For the time being, I’ll assume that my brain works faster than those thingamajigs that fall out of my ears.
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