Home » Distractions from My Angst » Books » I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means: The Downside of a Rapidly Expanding Vocabulary

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means: The Downside of a Rapidly Expanding Vocabulary

After I read the entire elementary school library in my formative years, teachers began bringing me books to read so I wouldn’t get bored during “reading hour”.  The upside of reading so much was that I learned a ton of new words and facts in a very brief amount of time.  The downside was that not all of this new information was age-appropriate or easily pronounceable, so I had a tendency to garble my vocabulary and take advantage of cruel facts in hilariously terrible ways.  For example:

  • Kindergarten: When playing “Ring Around the Rosey”, I announced to the large group of kindergarteners that the rhyme was actually a reference to a deadly bubonic plague and that by “falling down”, we were dying. Because I was an obnoxious little shit, I claimed that someone’s mosquito bite on their knee was a “rosey”, a clear indicator of impending death.  One girl became so hysterical with terror that she had to be taken off the playground.


  • First Grade: Enamored with orphans like Oliver Twist and in love with a romanticized idea of poverty, I asked kids in my class if they were poor to their face and then congratulated them if they were missing a parent.  When they got upset with me, I sang “Tomorrow” from Annie and wondered what their problem was.  I still don’t know why my mother didn’t throw me out of a moving vehicle.


  • First Grade: I got in trouble for singing “What do you do with a drunken sailor/early in the morning?/Put him in the brig until he’s sober” in class, and then defended my choice of verse with “being sober means you’re serious and sad and boring” because I had no concept of the other definition of the word.  I also started the trend of referring to the time-out corner as “the brig”.


  • Second Grade: At a funeral for a friend of the family who was a Marine, I kept asking questions very loudly about the “corpse”.  This kept going on until my mother pulled me to the side and told me to STFU. She thought I was talking about the dead body; I thought I was talking about the Marine Corps as I had always seen it written in books.


  •  Second Grade: I asked my teacher if she knew where I could buy opium.


  • Third Grade: After reading Leda and the Swan, I refused to feed the swans at the local lake. On the flipside, when I asked my teacher what the “feathered glory” was in the poem, she made some blustering comment about how boys and girls were different physically and to not ask any more questions.  For a long time, I assumed that boys had feathers down there.  I was a little disappointed when they didn’t.


  • Third Grade: After reading a terrifying book about Pompeii and the volcano Vesuvius, I was in hysterics because “there might be another eruption” and my aunt lived in nearby Naples!!!!! ….Florida.


  • Fourth Grade: A girl called me gay. I didn’t know she was attempting to be mean until the next day when someone told me that she wasn’t calling me cheerful.


  • Sixth Grade: I got into trouble for screaming VIVE LA FRANCE and for doodling hearts and “Whitney Enjolras” on all my textbooks after reading Les Miserables.


  • Yesterday: When talking to my mother about the unsolved Black Dahlia crime, she informed me that I had been mispronouncing Dahlia all these years.  It’s “dall-ee-uh”, not “dah-lee-uh”. Whoops. At least I got a blog entry out of it. And for the record, plaid is not pronounced “played”, as well.

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