Yes, that is a word. English is a live language, and as such is continually growing and changing. Take it up with the Oxford English Dictionary if you must.
Today’s topic was inspired by Veronica, who posted on ways she is a snob. I could relate to her post, but I cringed at her number 5, about people who use foreign expressions when an English one would do. Because that is my life.
It’s not my fault. That is to say, nobody forced me to move overseas and have to start trying to think in another language, but I’m not TRYING to be pretentious and impress people. I can’t help it. Sometimes I just can’t think of the English word.
Several weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about CNED (the kids’ schooling). “We finally got Elliot’s…uh…etiquettes,” I told her. I couldn’t think of the English word for etiquette. She tried to help me. Behaviour? Etiquette?
No, no, I waved my hands. “They’re…sticky things…”
“Stickers? Like for work well done?”
This made me laugh. The French don’t do stickers. I kept trying, and finally came up with the word “LABELS.” He had gotten his labels, that he puts on the work he sends back.
She was very patient and I think realized I was being a dork, rather than a schmuck. But it wasn’t so apparent the night Donn and I celebrated our anniversary several years ago.
We’d just come back from spending 10 months in France, and we went out to a nice restaurant for a special treat. The waiter was very helpful, answering questions with “A lot of people are saying the salmon is nice tonight,” or “Several have mentioned they especially enjoyed the crème brulee.” We ordered an appetizer that promised a French cheese. This was before we learned the sad truth that once you have lived or even been to France and eaten the cheese there, all other cheese will ever after be a sad letdown, a mere whisper of what a cheese might have been, and you will move through life discontent, groping for happiness, bemused, like men kissed by goddesses in dreams. And, since this was a once-a-year-if-then restaurant, the appetizer cost something ridiculous like $10 and we split it. And the cheese was rubbery. (I know now that it’s always rubbery, outside of France)
So when the waiter asked how was everything, I felt compelled to actually tell him. I usually don’t do this sort of thing, but I said, “I’ve noticed how often you’ve told me about other’s reactions to things, and it seems you really want feedback.” Lest I seemed to be setting myself up as some sort of pretentious cheese expert, I explained that we’d just been living in France, where we’d eaten rather a lot of cheese, not to mention pastries. I was trying to add colour, to show, not just tell, like they tell you to.
Soon, he came back. He said, “I always tell the chef people’s comments, and he usually rolls his eyes and says they’re wrong, but he tasted the cheese and said you were right. So I took it off your bill.”
Donn said, “Quick! Say something negative about the salmon!”
Then it came time to pay. Donn handed the waiter a credit card, then called him back. “Oh I forgot! I just put our plane tickets to Africa on that one–use this one!” Then I think we both blushed.
Could we have been any more obnoxious? It’s hard to think how. No, we were schmucks, even though we didn’t mean to be. It doesn’t help that it’s all true, not in a yuppie jet-setting sort of way, just in a normal work overseas sort of way.
So yesterday morning, when I was telling Nancy about The Candy Shop in Nouakchott and I said, “And they even have…uh…barbe a papa…what is that?” and Elliot looked up from his work and said, “Cotton candy,” I knew I was being a schmuck. I couldn’t help it.
My name is Nomad; I am a schmuck.
But what is English for goudron again?