After his only son had been sent to Cornton Vale for dealing oxy, qat-based products, and who knew how many other illicit substances, he and his wife had found themselves premature empty-nesters and decided to reinvent themselves as nomads. Plan A was to travel the world and settle for only a few months at a time, living wherever they wished on the winnings he’d squirreled away as a croquet player of modest renown, and the spare change he’d won playing roque against a few isolated enthusiasts. Their first attempt at exotic dwelling had ended after two days when they realized the suspiciously low-priced hovel they bought in Riyadh was built adjacent to an inconvenient wadi they hadn’t recognized during their initial tour of the grounds. The first rainfall after their big move, less than two days after signing the papers, had spirited away what little outdoor equipment they had, along with several unpacked boxes they’d left outside.
Throughout the course of their subsequent moves, they had endured seven more calamity-stricken abodes in seven different countries, three of which were near college campi that seemed peaceful at the time, all of whose student bodies had waited until after the McGillicuddys had settled before fomenting rebellion against their respective authority figures and damaging the idyllic ambiance. Eventually Hamish had decided Plan A was terrible and a career track of some fashion in a stabler environment was in order. Hence his expending of the last of their savings on Plan B in North Whitesville, Kansas.
Though disaster had yet to wipe out their new accommodations, sometimes he wished it would, though his loral research had unearthed no stories of North Whitesville having excessive trouble with tornadoes or other phenomena. He spent each humdrum work day leaning against the counter, dusting the cash register keys, and staring out the front window at his overpriced, aquae-painted ute parked by the curb. He regretted it still had six years’ worth of loan payments to go. He wished he could hop in the driver’s seat and escape to an even newer life.
His resistance to this Plan C was not so much a tribute to his formidable qi as it was an informal surrender to his fate. He wished he could be as carefree as their pet pot-bellied pig, Nu (which stood for Nikos, the name of a former close neighbor in Kalamaria), who mostly kept to himself in a large caged area in the back of the store. For a pig, Nu had a serene temperament, though this could be attributed to a savage accident involving a wheat thresher that had chipped one cloot and rendered him anurous. Nu had survived the sanguinary ordeal with a remarkable new-found grace.
“Hist! Hist!” said Mrs. McGillicudy from behind Hamish, trying to capture his elusive attention. While he had been staring into space, she had been extending every possible courtesy to their first customer of the week, who had been loitering in their produce section for half an hour, staring at the odd shapes and colors.
As she glared at Hamish, she pointed a thumb behind her in the customer’s direction and said, “The tourist wants to know how much for a pound of zin.”
He sighed. “Can that un not read the signs, my jo? Tell him we only sell it by the oka.”
She grimaced. “Finally we have ae customer, and now you decide to play the pretentious humorist.”
He sighed again. “I…na. You’re right. Tell him $2.99, but see if he might also take a bag of urd off our hands.”
“Ick. Na. Lord knows why we even carry that fetid stuff. The lad says he’s an ag engineer back home. He probably knows better. On the other hand, he’s also been eying our kue. I won’t pretend I understand those Indonesians, but they design the prettiest snacks.”
He sighed yet again. “Fine. Whatever you can do to close the sale. Offer to have him over for dinner tonight, why don’t you. Maybe we can feed him a slice or two of za. That’s how the kids say it, right?”
She rolled her eyes and returned to her prospect. Hamish slumped in a chair and thought to himself, Maybe that wadi wasn’t so bad after all.
* * * * *
To be continued? No idea.
I’ve mentioned in passing in previous entries that I dabble in Words With Friends. I’ve been a Scrabble fan since childhood, but I’ve found that WWF trumps my trusty old board game in one fascinating aspect: it allows you to keep trying random letter combinations until you stumble across a real word you never knew existed. If you bother to look up some of those surprise words in a dictionary, WWF technically serves as a most unusual vocabulary builder.
The preceding story fragment contained twenty-four different words I’ve never read anywhere in my life outside WWF, which accepted them as fully playable. Dictionary.com verified the existence of twenty-three of those. (I had to seek a second opinion on “oxy”.) Some I stumbled across on my own; many were played against me by so-called friends, who doubtlessly learned them in turn from other so-called friends — all of us joined in one extensive word-swap chain, learning terms none of us will ever use in complete sentences.
After looking up those two dozen for my own edification and amusement, I then went one step too far and tried using or misusing them in complete sentences, just to see what would happen. Behold the results.
One unexpected side effect: part of me now wants to hurry up and collect another list of verbal obscurities so I can move the story forward and find out what happens next…