Want to word play
If you haven't noticed already, I have a serious infatuation with word play in all its many forms--puns, rhymes, new creations, themes, blended terms. Even I cringe when I read my own words: Did I really just hit "publish"? Must I force this theme to exhaustion? The very title of the blog bears out this internal struggle: Do I want my legacy, after all, to be found in my embarrassingly predictable and tenacious capacity to provoke sighs and groans we typically reserve only for the worst knock-knock jokes and pick-up lines.
I made make fun of my husband for this, in fact. On our first date, he made a show of searching and reaching for a pack of sugar at the restaurant table, crinkled his nose so intently that little creases formed by his eyebrows, and said to me with a perfectly straight face, "It's too bad that they don't have any sugar that's as sweet as you." Yes, it's kind of amazing that there was a second date.
His corny jokes and delight in cheesy romance plot lines and unabashed pursuit of a life that mirrors those in Leave It to Beaver or Full House--those with tidy endings and clear morals and never a shortage of hugs--frustrate my conviction that life is complicated, messy, broken...and when humorous, often ironically or sickly so, not clean, G-rated, and all in good fun.
And yet that is exactly what I exhibit in my insistence upon exploiting every homonym I can find, tweaking a title so that there is alliteration or a catchy rhyme, and imagining every possible way I can stretch a theme into a new and clever manifestation. Perhaps I so relish this cheesy word play because it pays homage to the complexity that operates within my world, the competing strains that seek my full loyalty: improper versus acceptable, modern versus traditional, complicated versus simple, unconventional versus expected. Part postmodern in its nod to language's inability definitively to capture any one thing, to escape ambiguity, and part mathematics in its obedience to certain rules, patterns, and formulas, word play is both clean and messy, happy ending and unresolved story line, Stepford-esque and rebellious. Kind of like the girl who employs it.
I remember my third grade lesson on homophones, my shock upon learning that "our" and "are" were not in fact the matching pair--they sure seem so when following southern pronunciation!--but that "hour" and "our" sounded alike. My teacher stood beside the chocolate brown chalkboard, pointing her finger at the groups of words, and my mind began racing back to the wonderful Amelia Bedeliabooks, my brother's not-so-nice nickname for me, our dogs named Cinder and Gumbo and girls named Amber and Autumn and Grace. What makes a word? My eight-year-old self did not know it, but she was flirting with Kant.
So the shudder-inducing titles and my propensity for seizing every opportunity possible to delivery a pun likely will not dissipate anytime soon. I like playing with and exploring the possibilities of language too much. Probably I could afford--we all could afford--to indulge my eight-year-old self a bit more.
Am I write?