Sticks and Stones

I originally wrote this in 2007, but I liked it and wanted to post it again.  So there.

Last night, I was driving home and listening to NPR, and there was a story about a sock factory in Honduras. And every time Melissa Block said the word "sock" in oh-so-serious tones (because this industry is apparently very important in Honduras), I was reminded that "sock" can at once mean a snuggly thing made of cotton or yarn that keeps your feet warm, but it can also mean a fist in your face.

And my mind wandered to other words that indicate violence, and it seems that they all have alternative, mostly postive meanings as well.

"Hit" could mean a pop song that everyone is listening to right now.

"Punch" could mean a fruity concoction served in large glass bowls at parties.

"Strike" could mean a group of workers collectively standing up for their rights, or even better, hitting all your bowling pins with just one roll of the ball down the alley.

"Belt" could refer to that strap of leather that holds my pants up (always a good thing).

"Stab" could mean a brave attempt at something you've always wanted to do but never tried before.

"Box" could mean a lovely brown paper package tied up with string, which is indeed one of my favorite things.

"Kick" could mean an extra bit of spice (or alcohol) in that dish (or cocktail) you're currently enjoying.

"Bash" could mean one hell of a party.

"Batter" could be a delightful blend of ingredients used to make waffles or pancakes.

"Blow" could mean lightly exhaling onto a liquid soapy material to create bubbles that joyously float away, and um ... let's just leave that one there for the moment.

The only word I could think of that indicates physical violence and cannot be used to describe something lovely and pleasant is "clobber," but even that is very similar to "cobbler" and there's nothing more lovely or pleasant that a warm blueberry cobbler placed next to your Sunday morning cup of coffee.

I don't really have a point, except to ponder this: if language is all we really have to help us make sense of the world, and if this is the language we're using, then is it any wonder that we're so screwed up? Just sayin'.

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