Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Good, Better, Best Lexicon

My husband can make numbers dance. It’s a computer analyst thing. Numbers take the place of words in my husband’s binary mind. What you can’t say with a 0 or a 1 isn’t worth saying.

I, on the other hand, love the wordy majiggles, sometimes making up new twinkle words right on the spot. Words are magic.  In my mind, words are like pieces of a glorious puzzle that fit together in endless combinations to form blazing snapshots framed in braided twists of golden licorice.

You see the basic problem.

I spend my days tapping away at letters, blending them into words—also mowing, chopping, burning, edging, mucking, grooming, raking, planting, growing, dragging, and nailing, but that’s a subject for another day.

My husband reads what I write and says, “Good.”

He says it always and forever, because the word “good” is his describing word of choice. No matter what I write, how much or how little, how sad or how happy, he will call it good. No matter how much he likes a piece or how moved he is by it, or how hard it’s made him laugh, he has one and only one word to bestow on it.

GOOD. Not wonderful. Not amazing. Not wham bam thank you Sam. Just good.

I can’t decide if a one or a zero represents the word good in his binary brain bucket.
My latest project is a novella (a short, sweet novel) set in rural Florida in the mid ‘60’s called Mooncalf. It’s a very serious, literary work requiring a lifetime’s worth of blood and bone.

He read Mooncalf. When he finished reading, he paused, pondered, and said, “This is terrific.”

I just may have a Pulitzer Prize winner on my hands.

To illustrate what I’m up against, I’ve compiled a Sherwood Zern compliment lexicon:

It’s good.  (Said in a neutral tone)  1. I know you were making sounds resembling our mother tongue, but I wasn’t listening so I’ll play it safe.  2. What?

That’s good. (Said with no discernable intonation)  1. Why do you insist on reading this stuff to me when you know I prefer to read it myself.  2. No, really, I’m listening.

Good! Of course, I mean it. (Said in a clipped, sharp way)  1. I’m on a conference call and I forgot to mute it.

Well, isn’t that good.  (Repeated)  1. What’s for dinner?  2. Did you take my power cord?  3. When are you going to get a job?

That’s dang fine good.  (Eyes glued to computer monitor)  1. I didn’t understand a word you just read; it must be stellar.

And then . . .

Linda, this is really terrific. (With eye contact and vocal inflection)  1.  I love you, babe. Hang in there. 2. Dr. Suess received twenty-seven rejections before he was published. I believe in you.  3. You misspelled cooties on page eighty-three.

So back to page eighty-three I go, working like the devil to deserve such high and mighty praise from the king of the binary people.

Linda (Good, Better, Best) Zern



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