Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Opposites Attract

In the English language, there are certain prefixes that change the meaning of a word to it's opposite. Such word prefixes as "dis", "un", "in", "irr", and "non" are examples.

For some words, we use both base form of the word, along with it's opposite, such as:
  • Like and Unlike, or
  • Regular, and Irregular
However, for other words, we commonly use only the "opposite" form of the word, such as:
  • Inevitable -- we normally wouldn't say "evitable", or
  • Disgruntled -- normally we wouldn't say "gruntled"
A while back, I saw this story which uses the base form of words or phrases for wich we usually only use in the "opposite" form. If you're a word buff, you'll get a kick out of it like I did.

How I Met My Wife
by Jack Winter

Originally published 25 July 1994 in The New Yorker

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 and 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 become 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.


Téa said...

That is a clever story!

Keep on feeling better, ya hear?

David B. said...

Hi Téa:

It's great to hear from you!

I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

As far as feeling better, the words of an old Beatles song come to mind:

"I've got to admit its getting better,
A little better all the time"

(From Getting Better, on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonley Hearts Club Band album.)

Mary A said...

David, I got a kick out of this post and the previous one. Words are fun!

I'm glad you are hanging in there and getting better.

s'mee said...

My #5 will adore this! I would love to have the author's mind for a minute or two; how clever.