Vin Smitt had been toking on the dictionary again. This is not a pleasant thing for those of us who are victim to the sequela of his toke. When Vinny dipped into his Webster’s International you could pretty much depend on a whole new species of malapropist propaganda. And winter is not a good time. Vinny retired nineteen years ago. In the summer we are safe. Vinny occupies himself with his garden and keeping Shane Dirson’s cows out of his yard. In the winter, starting about October when the spuds are stored in the crawl space and Shane’s cows have been moved to another pasture, Vinny starts reading the dictionary.
You heard me. Vinny reads the dictionary.
I knew a guy who read the encyclopedia in second and third grade. I don’t know how much he remembered, but he read the damned thing. This was back before Wikipedia, which Encyclopedias resemble. Back then encyclopedias were about 30 books with the letters of the alphabet on the back of them to indicate the subjects to be found in each book. They were lined up on a shelf at the back of the classroom. Like the dictionary they were suppose to be reference books. But this guy I knew started at “Aardvark” sometime in October of 1956 and read through to “Zymurgy” on March 15, 1957. “There,” he said as he slapped the book closed, “I know every goddamned thing there is to know.” Mrs. Olivart thought the problem was that he swore, and sent him to the principle’s office. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that he “knew every $$%$^&$%*& thing there is to know.” It took six years and eight teachers to convince him otherwise. He’s a lawyer now, Yale class of ‘75.
But I digress—or as Vinny might have said that winter he did the “Ds”, “I digest.” Last year when he hit the ‘Rs’ it was “regress”. Which at least got the listener headed in the right direction toward common understanding.
The thing with Vinny, he reads the words, and sometimes the pronunciation. But Vinny skips the definitions. According to Vinny definitions are not the important part of words. Anybody could make up a definition. Which is true. Take “Aardvark” for instance. Forget that dictionaries say it means some kind of freak looking animal. It could be, as Vinny has asserted, a huge boat made by a mythic hero to save a tribe of Ardvinians from a flood. I mean, I agree it could mean that. Of course the sequela of making it mean that is that there is a whole new universe full of mythic heroes and Ardvinians to think about—and that means more stuff in the encyclopedia—Wikipedia too. Anyway, like Vinny says, anybody can make up definitions.
And Vinny did. Sometimes he just uses an already established definition. He gets to a word like “digest” or “regress” in the dictionary and he tosses in “to turn aside especially from the main subject of attention or course of argument” as the definition. But he really likes making his own definitions. It gets interesting.
Here’s the deal. Here’s the problem. Most of us are still trying to get a handle on Aardvarks as long lipped ant suckers. And Zymurgy! Forget it. Nobody has got that far yet (except maybe chemists or Yale lawyers or drunks). Most of us are just plain trying to get a handle on the vocabulary we were born into. I am talking about me and my buddies, Tubby Brail and Jimmy Triclimmer. I mean, there probably more than 200,000 words in the English Language. And some of them mean more than one thing. This is complicated by the fact that some of them mean nearly the same thing as another one of the 200,000 words. Much as we try, we have a lot to handle with just getting down those definitions. Jimmy might be able to, but me and Tubby? Not a chance.
So there we are, me, Tubby, and Jimmy, sitting at the bar at the Long Lost Canyon Bar. We are enjoying a fine outcome of the zymurgy, flirting with Andi Brittleflic, the bartender for the night, when Vinny shows up. And he is talking about these ‘sequelas’ in California.
“HUGE,” he says—he sometimes spoke in capital letters, “HuGE, mean mothers.”
“What now, Vinny,” Andi says. She is likes playing straight guy for Vinny and other rounders and story tellers. We all love her.
“You know, Andi.” Tubby says, “HUGE, sequala stuff.” He winks. He has been hitting on Andi since 1984 when she showed up here. It is pretty obvious why his hitting is not getting any runs. Andi just blinks, ignores him, and waits for Vinny.
“Californicating sequelas is what is up,” Vinny says.
Andi is Californian by birth. Montana is her adopted home, but she still wears a Charger’s shirt on Sunday—or at least she did until they moved to LA. But she lets Californicate pass, just half closing her eyes and smirk smiling.
“All right, Vinny, I’ll bite,” she says. “What’s up with sequelas”
“Can’t wait,” Tubby says. He rubs his hands together, winks again, then leans back with one elbow on the bar so he can both smirk at Vinny and grin at Andi.
Doc Roslieaner, who happens to have dropped by for a brew after forwarding an accident on to Bozeman Deaconess, says, “It is sequelae. Plural, sequelae.”
This catches Vinny with his mouth open. But he is quick, is Vinny. “Right,” he says. “Californicating sequelae.
“Anyway, they been infected by an alien disease, and the result is they are walking arou. . .”
“The sequela,” Doc Roslienaer says.
Vinny is caught with his mouth open again, trying to finish saying “around”.
“The technical term is “sequela,” Doc says, “Though, “result” will do, I guess.” He takes another sip of his beer.
“Sequela,” Tubby snickers and looks to see how Andi takes his expanding vocabulary.
She doesn’t. She is leaning both elbows on the bar, waiting for Vinny to go on.
“Right,” Vinny says, “That’s what I’m talking about. These HUGE trees”
[Andi groans, “Sequoia”. Doc snorts. Everybody else waits.]
“Been diseased by aliens, and the ‘whatever’” (Vinny does not sneer at Doc, but it is pretty close to a sneer) “is they are now walking through LA knocking down buildings and carbonating little kids.”
There is a loud silence.
Finally, Andi says, “Well, maybe the Chargers will get some sense, then, and go back to San Diego, and maybe start winning some games.
“I am not EVEN asking about carbonating,” she says.
“Was the aliens Ardvinians or Gluacomallers,” Tubby says. He grins at Andi. Of course she is not impressed that he can make up words. Unlike Vinny she believes anybody can do that. It’s the definitions she lives for. She smacks her lips and rolls her eyes.
“And just what, Tubby, are Glaucomallers?” She says.
Tubby flushes. His lips start to try to say something, but they are not being fed much information.
“Glaucomallers,” Vinny says, “Are a distant and dark race that introduced avocados to California strip mall Tex-Mex fast fooderies.”
“Sounds about right,” Andi says. She pulls a Montana Malt into a mug and slides the mug in front of Vinny. “On the house,” she says.
“Well,” Doc Rosliener says, “I’ve Aardvarked about all the lies and zymulgining I can dilate for one present perfect plumequatting.” He tossed back the last of his beer, dropped an Abe on the bar, and walked out into the night, no doubt to prevent another sequelea of devouted predelictions.