Sesquipedalian; 1) given to using long words; 2) containing many syllables.

I first encountered the word nine years ago on Facebook. Really. The word was included in a post on the Smith College Facebook page. Ah! That explains it. I did not know the word, so I looked it up. Of course, I did not recall the meaning of the word when I encountered it again today. That happens a lot. I come across words with which I am unfamiliar. I make a point of looking them up and then using them in some form or fashion; my hope is that by using them, I will remember them. Typically, it doesn’t work that way. I may remember the word and its definition for a week or a month, but not much longer. Except in those instances in which the word triggers some sort of physical reaction. Of course, I don’t recall words I learned in connection with a triggered physical reaction. But one day I will. And when I do I will attempt to commit them to memory. But, probably, I will fail. That’s just the way it is.

I try not to brag about my sesquipedalian vocabulary, which is easy to avoid inasmuch as I tend to use relatively short words and I am not much of an admirer of sesquipedalian language. I would never, for example, use supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in a sentence, whether I knew how to spell it correctly or not (although, as I understand it, it’s not really a word). But there are legitimate uses to which a sesquipedalian vocabularly can be put. In medicine, for example, each component of absurdly long words can convey important information. Naturally, I cannot think of any good examples or, for that matter, any poor examples.

This morning, I’m trying to use language as a crutch, a cane to prop up my mood and keep it from stumbling into the abyss. That’s where it was last night, even into the wee hours of the morning. Even as the dim light of day attempted to peek through the monstrously humid air this morning.

The air is drenched in fog or haze; a heated mist that turns everything grey and blurs the trees nearby. The trees farther away are abstract forms, almost hidden by nearly opaque vapor. This morning, as I attempt to delve into words to describe the slate air and dullness outside my window, memories of last night’s depression remain clear. That’s odd; clear memories of darkness, while the fuzzy air surrounding my house obscures the clarity of nature.

Last night, the smoke from gasoline fires and the aroma of cooked meat filled my nostrils; not literally, but the odors seemed real as I imagined setting the world aflame. Strangely, I did not feel the heat of the inferno. I smelled it, but the flames did not consume me, even as I walked through them. How is it that I think I smelled heat? Heat doesn’t have an aroma, does it? Heat, combined with other materials, results in odors, but the heat alone is neutral, I would think. Is it possible to smell the sun? I suppose it may be. The sun is super-heated hydrogen and helium and a few trace elements. But it’s those elements I might smell, not the temperature of the sun.

See? I’m using language to steer me away from doleful, cheerless despondency. That’s a bit redundant, I know, but I’m doing it to make a point. Words can serve as transportation out of a funk. Eye candy, too, can serve as a route out of dispiritedness; allow a pulchritudinous woman to cross my path and my mood tends to brighten. Although, I have to admit, that sesquipedalian word sounds descriptive of something one might find stopping up a toilet.

I’m tired of the funk. So, I shall beat it unmercifully with a platinum shovel until it bleeds into a brilliant rainbow of euphoria. There, in that multi-colored dazzle, I’ll see a woman who lives a life devoted chiefly to the pursuit of pleasure (that is, according to Merriam-Webster, a playgirl). And in that fantasyland, I’ll go by a new name: Pleasure. I’m so damn clever I can hardly stand it.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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