I was driving home yesterday, and a radio host was interviewing women about their choices to stay home or go back to work after having children. One woman said she felt better about choosing to say home after her husband offered to give her an allowance. “I mean, my allowance is only $200 a month, but it makes me feel valued.”
It was the way she used the word allowance, like she hadn’t an ounce of say-so or power over those two hundred dollars, like she had to wait for him to offer it up. I do believe my hair caught a bit on fire. That word. ALLOWANCE: An amount of something, especially money or food, given or allotted usually at regular intervals.
The rest of the way home, I got to thinking about other words that bug me.
TOLERANCE / TOLERATE. To allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference. To accept or endure (someone or something unpleasant or disliked) with forbearance. When someone says we need to be more tolerant, that we need to tolerate each other differences, my hackles go up. If I’m “tolerating” you, am I really accepting you? If a child walks into a room and I say I’m tolerating her presence, does that sound accepting, or like I’m really trying to love or understand her? I vote no.
FRIEND (as a verb?). A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. Is it strange to be “friends” with people you’ve never met or never had a conversation with? Is it strange to receive a “friend” request from your birth father whom you don’t know? Oh, it’s strange alright. Can we really be friends? What would that mean?
AMAZING! Causing great wonder or astonishment. I hear people in the coffee shop or the train station or the restaurant saying “Amazing!” A new girlfriend (She’s amazing!), the game they just saw (It was amazing!), the egg sandwich they just tasted (Fucking amazing!). Then I hear a tourist pass by a massive stone and marble church built in the 4th and 5th centuries (taking 150 years to erect) say, “Hmm. The guidebook said this would be amazing. Looks like any church.” Hmm is right.
And if you
are addicted, like me, to play Words With Friends, doesn’t it make you nuts when your opponent plays Za, Qi, or Jo on a triple letter space?
Za. A pizza.
Qi. A variant of chi.
Jo. Sweetheart or dear.
I mean really, had any of us ever heard of these words before WWF? There’s even an article about it in the Wall Street Journal.
What words are driving you crazy?