Jack was quite himself this week.
We’d been arguing over the plural of the word ‘spoonful’. Jack maintained that ‘spoonsful’ made a lot more sense than ‘spoonfuls’.
“It’s like ‘passer-by’ – you don’t hear anyone saying ‘passer-bys’. What really gets my goat is that stupid commercial about the absorbency of some kind of paper towel: it’s supposedly a great ‘picker-upper’. It can be either ‘picker-up’ or pick-upper’ but not both.”
“Anything else stuck in your craw today, Jack?”
“Yes, the word ‘bestest’. That too must be an invention of the advertising industry. Did I say ‘industry’? Shame on me!”
I said “what would you call it?”
Jack said “a business, at best; a circus maybe, or even a con-game.”
At this point Jack’s attention, and subsequently mine, was drawn to two youngsters, boy and girl, with enormous Mohawk haircuts, who sat down a few tables away. The boy’s hair was bleached to a virtually pure white; the girls was coloured in arcs mirroring those of a rainbow.
“Wow,” said Jack, obviously very impressed, “I’d call that a ‘rainbowhawk’.”
Picking up from Jack’s point of departure, I suggested that the boy was now wearing a ‘snowhawk’.
There was no stopping Jack now. He took a ballpoint pen out of his pocket and jotted down a list of names on his virtually unused napkin. As he wrote, he explained:
“There could be a ‘beauhawk’ – one done up with all kinds of bling Or maybe that should be called a ‘showhawk’. And there could be a ‘schmohawk’ – that’d be a very badly done one. You could have a ‘doughhawk’, with a some dollar bills woven in. And if the Mohawk was rather short, you could call it a ‘lowhawk’.”
I asked “is there no end to this?”
“Not by a long shot,” answered Jack. And to illustrate he went on: “If the Mohawk is worn by a lady of the night, it would be a “ho’hawk’. And if it was done up in dayglow colours, it would be a ‘glowhawk’. And if you couldn’t find a proper name for it, you could call it a ‘I-don’t-know-hawk. A badly done one would be a ‘so-sohawk’ Black people could have a ‘’frohawk’. If tufts of hair leaned alternately to opposite sides, that would be a ‘to-and-frohawk’. And if the hair was arranged in a fountain effect, it could be called a ‘Moehawk’, after the fellow in the Three Stooges who had the mullet.”
“That wouldn’t work,” I said, “people couldn’t hear the difference between ‘mohawk’ and ‘Moehawk’.
“That’s their problem,” said Jack, dismissing mine with his usual casual indifference.
“Oh,’ he said, “And then there is a ‘nohawk’.”
I asked “what’s a nohawk?”
Jack said, “that’s for someone who is bald. Hey, if the person is sensitive about that, he could always wear a ‘fauxhawk’ -- a wig.”
“Good one,” I admitted.
Sjef Frenken is a renaissance man: thinker, writer, translator and composer of much music. A main interest, he has many, is setting to music the poetry, written for children, during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Nimble of mind, Sjef is a youthful retiree and a great-grandfather. Mostly he's a content man, which facilitates his relentless multi-media creativity.
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