Something Else

Ideas usually come to me when I’m doing “something else,” or supposed to be doing something else, like sleeping.  Some of my more fruitful notions materialize in dreams.

Thoughts which become my columns come to me in the wee hours of the night when my desktop computer is asleep, like I should be.  So, the notes section of my cell phone is vastly overused, including its microphone.  It’s a wonder my notes icon doesn’t make the ding, ding, ding noise that signals an overload, that other mechanized items are apt to do.

I also resort to my notes to record thoughts when I’m jogging or hiking outdoors.  Ideas come when they come, at the most random times and they can flee, like a butterfly if I don’t get them recorded somewhere.  Little can frustrate a writer more than an idea, a really good one, that flew the coop.

I might be jogging to music and I’ve got the timer on for my workout, and I don’t believe I can also use my notes to record the ideas that seek my attention at that inopportune time.  I panic just a little and certainly lose my jogging-Zen, thinking, “hurry up before that thought goes the way of 8-track tapes.”

I might be gift wrapping a present when I suddenly think of an alternative way to make that soup, we were thinking of trying.  I was recently paying bills online when I came up with a time saving idea for packaging my homemade cookie gifts.

Ideas for reducing stress in my jaw come when I’m mindful that I’m clenching again.  That reminds me….  To be reminded of something is to rememorate or to be caused to remember.  Somewhere in our mental storehouses we experienced something that we now randomly recall, triggered by “something else” similar that we’d experienced before.

When we’re doing something else, we frequently get reminded of other related things.  Speaking of other – that’s what else means.  Else shares its origins with the words alien, alibi, and alter – otherness.

I don’t recall from what scenario we heard the expression, “what else ya got,” but we usually say this as ventriloquists for our cats when one of them turns up his nose at the food offering given to him or when a new recipe doesn’t pan out.  “Anything other than that, please.”

Alternatives.  Either we have an alternative or we feel our liberty is limited.  Surely there’s something other than this.  If given a choice, I’ll take the other one.

What else?  It’s probably not just men, or all men, but my experience with one man suggests that with the television, he prefers to know what else is on.  Rarely settled with what’s on, he wants to know his options for what else might be on.  “Can’t we just watch this,” she pleads.

Speaking of alternatives, ever since the reign of Queen Victoria in England, commencing in the early 19th century, the advent of polite society initiated the replacement of vulgar “four-letter words” with polite ones.  This trend spread over the pond to the united colonies, and here we are.

Everybody knows the words that politeness has wrought and most of them are of the four-letter variety, in English.  One of the most prolific is, heck, for h-e-double hockey sticks; gosh for the Jewish preferred G-d; darn, for the jammed up run of water, with another m added for good measure.   Used mostly in the U.K., arse is a four-letter word replacing the crasser three-letter word it is substituted for.  Go figure.

Then there’s the words shoot or sugar for the French, merde, but these are not four-letter words, so we came up with the four-letter word, crap, because polite substitutes should at least resemble the masked cuss word, for emphasis as an exclamation of indignation.  However, some folks in polite society believe that the word crap is just as crass and impolite as the word it is intended to replace.

Cuss itself is probably another word for swear, which is not just considered impolite but ungodly as well.  So, I’m thinking that cussing is like telling white lies, they’re both on a continuum from bad to worse, as words of exclamation go.

But at least most impolite words and their replacements stick with one syllable, whether the word contains three, four, or five letters.  This, supposedly stays in effect for the emotional emphasis these words demand; although there are the full sentence substitutes such as, “gosh darn it to heck,” “not by a darned sight,” “just for the heck of it,” “we had a heck of a good time,” “what the heck?” and “you’re doing a heck of a job.”

No worries, newspapers and most other print media remain firmly ensconced in polite society’s norms and will replace any questionable impolite words with the other word, expletive.  I’ve tested this policy, my natural sarcasm overwhelming my polite facade in just one instance. Most people will quickly fill in the expletive-blank, because we all know the banned words.

Words for excretory functions, do not rise to the level of profanity, even though potty language is considered by most to be impolite.  Thus, the comedy of the Shrek movies offends only a minority.

Something else about our English language use of impolite words and their substitutes is that nearly all of them begin and end with hard consonants, making them closed syllables.  Apparently, this is for emphasis; that’s why we use them. 

Oh, and “something else,” what kind of four-letter word is work, word, love, loss, heap, more, best, sale, home, salt…?

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