Instating the New Year

IMG_1226Did I do anything worthy of a “best of 2022” post? Not really. Ended an era by selling my motorcycle and trailer. Bought a couple of wristwatches and a new iPhone. Took two road trips to Las Vegas. Took in a wayward daughter. Wrote a few blog posts worth reading.

So how about 2023? Donna and I are discussing getting rid of most of our stuff, selling the house, and moving into a senior living condo (not a *facility* — we will not be using that word, thank you very much). It’s not any kind of new year’s resolution, though. A new year’s aspiration, maybe.

Donna’s slowly getting over a cold. She’s testing negative for Covid, which is a relief. Still, her cough is a nasty one and I’m pretty sure she isn’t having any fun. She’s better this morning, so things are looking up.

My new iPhone is here. Donna got hers a couple of weeks ago; I had to wait a bit longer. I finished setting it up yesterday, and now that I know what I’m doing will help Donna finish setting the facial recognition feature on hers. The first call with the new phone was to our son in Las Vegas — I wanted to let him know his mom doesn’t have Covid.

I worried he’d take my previous blog post, where I speculated her cold was inadvertently passed to her by one of the many family members and friends who dropped by his house on Christmas, as criticism. So another reason I called was to assure him it wasn’t. We loved seeing everyone, and wouldn’t have missed meeting granddaughter Taylor’s S.O. Jordan’s family, who flew in from their home in Hawaii, for anything.

More visitors came later … a great Christmas!

Anyway, now to find the handout from the cell phone camera course Donna gave me for my birthday, and figure out what all those lenses on the back of the iPhone 14 Pro are for!

Donna tried to see in the new year with me, but her eyes started slamming shut around 11:30 and she went to bed. I sat up with the dogs lest the sound of gunshots and fireworks freak them out, scanning posts on Mastodon and Twitter to stay awake. Just before the ball dropped, one jumped off the screen and slapped me in the kisser: “47 minutes until the Department of Defense is officially delinquent on their promise to instate the 12 week military parental leave benefit required by federal law.”

I quickly responded: “If they instate it before midnight, they can still nege on the promise!”

There’s a thing called an unpaired word. We read about disgruntled employees shooting up workplaces, but who ever describes happy workers as gruntled? No one, that’s who, even though it’s a legit word, in the dictionary and all. That’s why disgruntled’s an unpaired word: no one uses its pair.

Usually, unpaired words are opposites. That’s not the case with instate/reinstate, which mean the same thing, almost. I wouldn’t use instate because readers and listeners might get tripped up on it, as I did. By the way, nege isn’t the opposite pair of renege, but you probably knew that. I made that one up.

How unfamiliar is instate? Well, it doesn’t appear in Jack Winter’s classic humor piece, “How I Met My Wife” (The New Yorker, July 25, 1994), which provides an otherwise exhaustive catalog of unpaired words:

It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate.

I was furling my wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her standing alone in a corner. She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way.

I wanted desperately to meet her, but I knew I’d have to make bones about it since I was travelling cognito. Beknownst to me, the hostess, whom I could see both hide and hair of, was very proper, so it would be skin off my nose if anything bad happened. And even though I had only swerving loyalty to her, my manners couldn’t be peccable. Only toward and heard-of behavior would do.

Fortunately, the embarrassment that my maculate appearance might cause was evitable. There were two ways about it, but the chances that someone as flappable as I would be ept enough to become persona grata or a sung hero were slim. I was, after all, something to sneeze at, someone you could easily hold a candle to, someone who usually aroused bridled passion.

So I decided not to risk it. But then, all at once, for some apparent reason, she looked in my direction and smiled in a way that I could make heads or tails of.

I was plussed. It was concerting to see that she was communicado, and it nerved me that she was interested in a pareil like me, sight seen. Normally, I had a domitable spirit, but, being corrigible, I felt capacitated — as if this were something I was great shakes at — and forgot that I had succeeded in situations like this only a told number of times. So, after a terminable delay, I acted with mitigated gall and made my way through the ruly crowd with strong givings.

Nevertheless, since this was all new hat to me and I had no time to prepare a promptu speech, I was petuous. Wanting to make only called-for remarks, I started talking about the hors d’oeuvres, trying to abuse her of the notion that I was sipid, and perhaps even bunk a few myths about myself.

She responded well, and I was mayed that she considered me a savory character who was up to some good. She told me who she was. “What a perfect nomer,” I said, advertently. The conversation became more and more choate, and we spoke at length to much avail. But I was defatigable, so I had to leave at a godly hour. I asked if she wanted to come with me. To my delight, she was committal. We left the party together and have been together ever since. I have given her my love, and she has requited it.

Happy new year, everyone!


2 thoughts on “Instating the New Year

  • Had never heard of unpaired words before, funniest thing I’ve read all year. Like you, I use ‘that’ too frequently and also ‘very’ which seems to weaken the statement rather than emphasize it, paradoxically. I use the programming style ‘if’, ‘then’, ‘else’ formation a lot- so logical. I love parenthetical asides and asterisked notes way too much no matter how much they slow down reading and derail the narrative. My brain is stuffed with trivia and minutia I need to share. I love colons and commas too but I don’t like the look and don’t understand what a semicolon is for. Is it a salacious wink? It seems both semi and colon punctuation marks are now obsolescent or endangered since nobody wants to ‘tap and hold’ to make them appear on a tablet or mobile phone. I know there is some difference in meaning between the ” (double quote) and the ‘ (single quote) but I don’t know what it is and I use the single because it looks better. Similar confusion for me between dashes and ‘M dashes’, whatever-the-fuck an ‘M dash’ is. And whether to use spaces with dashes, though I like the little mark, nice change from commas.
    Finally, the order of precedent for adjectives in English is precise and logical but I, and most English speakers, don’t know the sequence but “Rather bizarrely, native English speakers can order their adjectives correctly without ever being taught this precedence list.”
    Not always, but usually it goes:
    Opinion or Observation
    Physical Quality
    Origin or Religion
    Purpose or Attributive Noun
    I just ran across this last year, yet sure enough, native English speakers like me can sequence adjectives automatically without ever realizing there were strict rules. I know ‘that'(!) writers write because they are writers and don’t have much choice. I sense that, like me, you write for yourself and ‘if’ other volks like it and read it ‘then’ that’s just gravy. But I’ve enjoyed reading your stuff, so thanks anyway. You are a fine writer who actually thinks and actually knows stuff, always rare. Happy new year!
    Tod recently posted…PHI VILLA Zero Gravity Chair: A ReviewMy Profile

  • I’m fond of the semicolon; I try not to overuse it. Where I use ellipses and/or em dashes, I could often use colons. The AP Stylebook has this to say about the em dash: “An em dash is longer than the en. If you guessed that it’s as wide as the letter “M,” you get a gold star. In AP style, the dash should be set off with spaces on both sides. This little symbol is beloved by writers everywhere and hated by many editors.” As for quotation marks, the Brits have it right: a single quotation mark before and after a quotation; double quotation marks before and after quotes within quotes. But Americans do the opposite and it being the way I was raised, it’s double quotes for me, with single quotes within.

    I learned to touch type in 9th grade back around 1960, and used double spaces between sentences up until about 15 years ago. Most people my age still do, but I switched to single spaces between sentences because it looks better on the screen. And I disagree with my beloved AP Stylebook on the Oxford comma and persist in using it.

    I saw the same article about the order of descriptive adjectives and was amazed by how true it is. You try saying adjectives in any other order and it just doesn’t sound right!

    p.s. Thanks for the compliment! Right back at’cha!

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