I can’t get enough of words

I can’t get enough of words

I like words like other people like pies, cars, dogs or cats, parties, the opera, the outdoors, winning and praise. Words are nice packages of meaning. I see a word and exalt. Even if it’s a word whose meaning I don’t care for. Like dull, puke, force, putrid, or remiss. My mind salutes all words.

And how great it is that I don’t have to pay for words? Every word I’ve used so far in this piece cost me nothing. I never have to rent or buy a word. They are offered up for free in my mental chamber. I’ll never receive a bill for these tasty letter assemblages.

And if this wonder wasn’t enough, I take what I got for nil, organize it into an entertaining semblance, give it a title, and get money. For words, I got for free!

I like to meet other word assemblers. Especially the dead ones who lived long ago. There’s something about word corralers from back a ways that’s fresher for me. Maybe it’s the words they used were newer long ago. New things shine because people haven’t stopped noticing them. They still have the wow factor. Even though those author’s books are read today, they still have that fresh mind shine.

Ambrose Bierce

That was the reason for my time travel visit today to 1870, San Francisco, and the office of The Overland Monthly magazine. I walked into the office of one of its staff writers, the great wordsmith, Ambrose Bierce. Back then you never needed an appointment to visit someone. You showed up and they had to deal with you. It was before the advent of Scheduling, whose concept was invented by Senator Charles Sumner on his death bed in 1874, when he was reputed to have said, “If I knew the Reaper was to have come calling this day, I would have gone fishing.”

I shared with Ambrose that I was from the future. He thought that was a funny concept and wanted to hear more of my story. Writers want to hear other writers words from both their hand and mouth.

I told Ambrose about the time I came from, the device I travel by to other times, and some favorite stories from my travels. I shared a recent time trip to Greece, the year 321 BC. I met up with the philosopher Aristotle after he had just given a lecture on the nature of the Universe and the particulars. I asked Aristotle if he would like to snort with me. We held hands and snorted out loud as we walked through the countryside.

Bierce said my wording was marvelous. I asked him to share with me some his words. He related the story of the dog and the duck. The dog was constantly on edge about the possibility of intruders venturing onto his person’s property. If the dog was asleep, and the wind rustled a leaf, the dog would leap to standing, belching out boisterous barks to the imagined trespasser. One day a migrating duck flying over the property was overcome by fatigue and landed within the confines. Within seconds, the dog was on the duck, with the intention of its demise. But soon the dog was sneezing up a fit due to a feather allergy. It was apparent the dog might meet its own conclusion, when the duck began to sing the ditty, Camptown Races. The dog ceased its sneezing, and during the opportune moment, sang, “Oh! doo-dah day!”

Bierce and I sang a few rousing rounds of Stephen Foster’s words. Then sat in silence for a half hour. Worders often enjoy bouts of quietude. It allows us to watch words prance around in our minds, like deer through the pine forest.

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