Many years ago, in the endless summer of youth when young men’s thoughts thrill towards romance, I met Loretta.
Adolescence is supposed to be a maelstrom of angst, rebellion, and teen difficulties. But my mother didn’t believe in such things so I wasn’t allowed.
All I had was youthful enthusiasm, a tender heart, and a lack of experience.
I’d heard of love, and had thought I was in love once; a distracted demeanour and a funny feeling in the pit of the stomach. But it turned out to be wind.
Life changed when Loretta and I met in my first year of high school. Doe eyes, auburn curls, the grace and blush of modesty, yet a dancer on the winds of fortune. When she smiled the whole world stopped to smile back.
She was the girl who reminds you of that line, that one well-aimed line, in the song that makes you think of things that weren’t but might have been.
Our love was tempestuous. Powerful like the tides of oceans, spectacular like the collision of galaxies.
I told her she smelled like the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight, that my heart was a kite that longs to fly. I was only 13, remember, I couldn’t think up original lines. But I bought her a curly-wurly.
Alas, she was taken from me too young. Her father whisked her away to lands off the edge of the map, the places marked “here be dragons”.
They call it Aberdeen nowadays. He’d got a job in the oil industry.
Our parting was such sweet sorrow. There were tears (mine), longing (mine), and flippancy (hers).
I professed I would wait for her return till a’ the seas gang dry. I’ll never forget what she said in return. She looked me straight in my tear-filled eye and whispered: “It’s just, y’know, thingy!”
I was inconsolable until the following Tuesday. In the bleak eternity of those three days I puzzled: what’s “thingy”? Did she mean, despite the separation, ours was a love to last until the twilight the gods? Or welcome to Dumpsville, population: you?
Since that day I have valued precision in language. I like, I demand, properly defined meanings for words. I like statements to be understandable, unambiguous, uncomplicated. Not “thingy”.
The greatest praise it is possible to give any sentence is: the meaning is plain. The aim of every piece of writing, after all, is to communicate effectively.
Many problems could be solved, I’d like to believe, if we communicated properly with each other.
Word of the week
A critical period or event. EG: “Like many of the ‘borrowed’ quotes in this week’s column, it was the classic cliché. Boy meets girl, someone’s heart is broken. But she was, truly, the first major climacteric of my life.”
Read the latest Oh my word! every Saturday in The Courier. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org