Word of the Day: inimical

Today I overslept, and since I didn’t come up with an idea yesterday, I’m scrambling for one at the same time I’m feeling that confused panic of having missed my intended wake-up time.

As a jog to my creative juices, I did my obscure holiday check, and today is Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day, Make a New Friend Day and White Shirt Day, which apparently honors employees who helped the UAW become the sole bargaining agent with General Motors after a sit-down strike which ended on this day in 1937.

I think I’m just going to go with the barest sliver of an idea that I got, and try not be too disappointed that it isn’t brilliant or the funniest.thing.ever. Instead, I’ll be glad I got something original sent out, before I had to go to work, and without resorting to other tactics.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Preston Taylor was feeling the pressure. His calendar was telling him that today was Make New Friend Day, and he had never been particularly good at that. He wondered if whoever came up with the bright idea for this reason to sell cards even thought about the fact that making a friend was a process, it was not typically something that could be done in a single day.

He told himself “It’s just a calendar.” He was under no obligation to make friends or wear shirts or talk to some cat. He could just forget the tiny notation on the bottom of Thursday’s page, and go on with his life.

But, the page bothered him. Why was he resisting making friends? He might try just walking down the street at lunch, where it would have sidewalks filled with pedestrians. He could see himself, holding out his hand, and saying “Hi, I’m Preston. I’d like to be your friend.”
He grimaced. Right, that isn’t remotely awkward. He’d be lucky if no one called the cops and had him committed.

Preston wondered briefly why that was. He wondered what he would think if someone came up to him and offered him friendship on the street. “Because it was weird,” his brain offered. No one trusts weird things, and if you can’t trust someone, well, it’s hard to be their friend.

He then thought about situations which would make someone a true friend in the span of a day. Reasonably, two people could be united in a common crisis, like being trapped in an elevator, or trapped in a speeding bus that could explode if it slowed down to under 50 MPH. And this was friendship, not a romantic one. Because, he thought with a chuckle “relationships that start under intense circumstances, they never last.”

He supposed if he were serious about this making a friend thing, he could simply cause a crisis, and be trapped with some other person, and then they’d become friends… Until the other person found out that he’d caused the crisis, and never spoke to him again, because everyone knows the other person *would* find out. That’s like storytelling 101.

No. thought Preston. He would just mostly be himself, offer a friendly gesture, like bringing an apple, unexpectedly, for a co-worker, and let nature take its course. Hopefully he didn’t randomly pick the one person who hated apples and would be inimical towards such an offering. If they ended up friends, so be it. So long as they didn’t end up enemies, and there was a touch more friendship in the world, well, he figured that was worth an attempt. Maybe not even just on Feb. 11. 

Well, it was worth a shot. I’m running late for work. Type to you tomorrow.

inimical / in – EM – eh – cal / hostile, unfriendly.

Word of the Day: durance

Today is the feast day of Saint Apollonia, patroness of dentists and tooth problems. You might be wondering why I mention this. Likely it will become clear as you read…

Today’s Word


As in:

Before she was a Saint, Apollonia was simply a persecuted Christian cruelly tortured for her beliefs. In the midst of her durance, her jailers inflicted their torture by violently shattering the poor lady’s teeth. A few teeth were extracted with pincers. After enduring this, the martyr was burned to death.

Or so the story goes.

In truth, the story is far stranger.

Apollonia was one of a number of ladies suffering during an outbreak of violence against Christians in the city of Alexandria, Egypt in the third century. After enduring the painful dental destruction, Apollonia seized the opportunity to throw herself on a mound of flamming coals. But she was not the only one. Using the cover of the others, Apollonia secretly escaped from the fiery pit.

With no dental records to prove she had perished in the fire, and, for that matter, no teeth, Apollonia wandered the streets of Alexandria by night, looking for a solution to her toothless existence. She stayed out of the sight of the living, both for fear of recognition, and out of embarrassment for her current state. One night, she learned of a child who had lost his tooth. His family simply discarded it. Apollonia was thrilled! Perhaps she could fashion some sort of device to help her, made of discarded teeth!

Soon she was searching everywhere for the baby teeth, until she was spotted one night pulling a prize specimen from the refuse heap behind a row of houses.

The small girl whose tooth it had been, looked curiously at the woman, toothless and scarred by flame. She looked frightened.

At this moment, Apollonia spoke. “Do not be afraid. I am the tooth fairy. I bring you a gift in trade for your lost tooth.” and she pulled out a small coin. “Tell all your friends that if they simply leave their teeth under their pillows at night, I will find them and leave an offering in its place.”

All fear lost, the child did as she was asked.

Apollonia, for her part, was pleased to be able to give small offerings of food in exchange for teeth. She was careful to never again be spotted about her nightly visits.

I think this one has disturbed even me. No, I know it has.

Although, come to think of it, isn’t the idea of a tooth fairy pretty creepy anyway? What does she want with baby teeth? Never mind. I don’t want to know. Yuck.  

durance / DURR – ants / imprisonment

Word of the Day: swivet

swivet / SWI – vit / a state of extreme agitation, a tizzy
It took a while to figure out how to do this story. If I’m being really honest, I thought about it far too much. So much so, that the story itself was the last thing I thought about, which might also be noticeable. I further suspect that I might’ve developed a case of “toilet on the brain,” with all of these commode-centered stories.
The assembled crowd gasped, and glared at the butler, who jeered, “It’s the oldest dodge in the book. In formula fiction the one everyone suspects is the least likely to be the actual killer. I thought you all knew this, no one would ever suspect that I would be involve due to the simple fact that I was the obvious choice! Only I knew that Lady Penny had changed her will, leaving me the sole beneficiary. I just had to play dumb for a few weeks and take my just desserts. If it weren’t for that meddling investigator, I’d have gotten away with it all!”
“The killer is none other than Malcolm Jeeves, Ms. Penelope Crapper-Connor’s longtime lover and capable butler!”
There was silence in the large ballroom, where those assembled pondered these cryptic words.
“Perhaps it was her spurned lover, who arrived in a swivet, and strangled her in a moment of anger. Possibly, it was a member of her household staff, fed up with her constant, belittling attacks. Or, perhaps it was both…”
“Could it be her spoiled children? Unlikely. Each of them was far too absorbed in their own existence to entertain thoughts of murdering their mother in her bathroom, where she might be naked. Such a condition could not be observed by her spoiled offspring, who would not risk such a horrifying sight.”
“I am glad you all accepted my invitation. I know you all are eager to learn the truth of not only dear Penelope’s demise, but the death of her husband, Thornton. Unless, of course, you are the killer.”
As the dinner ended, and the nervous chatter grew in intensity, Polaski addressed the room of suspects. The butler fetched a microphone, so that everyone could hear.
The motley crew was assembled for a scrumptious dinner at the estate. Hosting the cast of dozens was left to the capable hands of K.C. Polaski, who promised to reveal the name of the murder.
Was Ms. Crapper-Connor’s death an accident? Was she the victim of matricide, or perhaps she decided a life as a toilet heiress was too much to handle?
Finally are the dark horse candidates, a gallery of household employees, including a much-put-upon cook, who endured the daily abuse of her employer’s biting critique of every morsel of food, a driver who had been fired for failing to stock the limo’s mini bar with cherries of sufficient size to fit on the end of Penelope’s nose, and a gardener who had been denied multiple raises over years of faithful service.
In the second tier of potential murderers is Penelope’s former lover, who had been strung-along for many years, waiting for Mrs. Crapper-Connor to accept his marriage proposal, and keep him in the manner to which he’d like to become accustomed.
The pool of suspects is Olympic-sized. In the shallow end are Penelope’s three surviving children. Ever since their father’s mysterious and unsatisfactorily resolved death, the three privileged and wasteful youths would benefit greatly from their mother’s untimely demise. True to stereotype, the eldest is known to have significant gambling debts, the middle child, an addiction to fashionable narcotics, and the youngest a knack for trusting scam artists, and had been “cut-off” from her trust fund.
Ms. Crapper-Connor was found dead in her bathroom, strangled by the long chain pull which activated her toilet’s flush. She had a number of bruises, suggesting that perhaps she had slipped and gotten caught in the cord. Such suggestions were made primarily by the main suspects in the case.
The bizarre murder of Penelope Crapper-Connor, heir to the enormous Crapper family fortune, has been puzzling detectives for nearly two weeks, but, one cunning Private Investigator claims that she will soon reveal the culprit, likely in at a dinner party to be held at the Crapper Compound.
As in:
Today’s Word:
As a side note, tomorrow (Jan 27) is National Crapper Day, the anniversary of the death of Thomas Crapper, the plumber most widely associated with toilet. He didn’t invent it, but, he had many innovations which made it more sanitary, and as the installer of the Royal privies, his fixtures became world renowned, and are not much different than the ones we know today.
In keeping with the Obscure holiday tradition, this story was inspired by today’s holiday, which is “Backwards Day.” I have a feeling you’ll notice. If you have ever felt disoriented, or that something was really out of whack, chances are, it wasn’t you, it was Backwards Day. Now you are forewarned.

Word of the Day: novitious

I’m something of a sucker for obscure holidays, in large part because they offer such a wealth of material for the Word of the Day. And today’s story is evidence of this. Today is National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. Seriously. I could not possibly make that up. Well, maybe. But, why would I?

Today’s Word:


As in:

In observance of National Answer your Cat’s Questions day, a novitious and obscure holiday invented for reasons that are unlikely to make any sense, an “Answer Fair” will be held downtown today. The fair will have booths selling catnip, mice on a stick and balls of yarn, as well as cat whisperers, cat translators, and other cat-related paraphernalia for cat owners to spend vast sums of money.

The booths of cat whisperers and translators will see cats so that their owners can gain an insight into what their cat might be thinking, and possibly what their questions might be so that they might be able to provide answers, thus fulfilling the letter of the holiday’s observance.

After strolling the stalls and seeing a wider selection of merchandise for cats and with pictures of cats than any human ever imagined existed, Nora Rosen was filled with anticipation, ready to wait in line to learn more about her cat than she had dreamed. She wasn’t sure if she believed that these people could glean the questions hidden within the mind of the mysterious feline, but, it would be interesting to see if anything they said made sense. She had brought her cat Schrödinger to the fair to learn what was behind that Mona Lisa smile of his, but, more than that, she hoped she could just get him to stop shredding furniture and spraying things As much as she loved her cat, sometimes, his destructive tendencies were not only frustrating, but costly. If she could find a way to prevent the worst of his habits, it would be worth it. Secretly, she was also excited to be able to know what her cat thought of her.

She set the feline in front of the panel of experts. Moments passed. The cat whisperer spoke, in the words only a cat would speak.

“Why are you bothering to answer my questions? As if you could understand them. Don’t you people have better things to do than trying to talk to cats, or putting captions on cat pictures? We don’t give a rotted bird carcass for your stupid cheeseburger. They’re all cooked and gross. If we wanted to talk to you furless monsters, we would, and we’d spell correctly using the paw-adapted keyboard we designed but you can’t see. What makes you thing we’d demean ourselves and use your filthy language anyway? Enough. Stop with the yarn. We demand catnip, and tuna.”

Getting what we think we’d like can be disappointing. Especially in the case of cats.

novitious / no – VISH – us / newly invented