I wasn’t a normal kid. By that I don’t mean I was abnormal. I didn’t have horns; wasn’t born with three eyes, or two hearts. I experienced the same childhood illnesses and complaints other children did and went to school on the correct chronological spectrum.
Where I was different, though, was in the material things kids want.
Growing up, children my age would ask for Christmas and birthday presents like a new bike, or an Easy Bake Oven. Barbie dolls were big, as were roller skates. When it came to writing out a Christmas wish list every year, I typically had three items:
- Rock’em Sock’em Robots
- Pencils and paper
I was never going to get Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots, my mother explained, because that was a present for boys, not girls. Hey, this was the ‘60’s. People were still unbersexist and not afraid to talk about it.
But I did get the books I asked for and the writing instruments. My favorite present when I turned 8? A Webster’s Dictionary.
See? Not a normal kid.
Even as a child I loved words. Words lived in dictionaries. Words led to sentences, which turned into pages, then chapters in a book. And I loved books. More than anything.
I used to try and learn a new word everyday after I received my dictionary. Words like escarole and calliope; diminutive and xanthene. These wounds rolled off my tongue, harsh and alien at first, but after practicing them a thousand times, they were familiar friends.
So, with all the hundreds of thousands of words in our language, which are my favorites?
If you ask a parent “which child is your favorite,”what response do you get?
If you ask a chef what is their favorite taste, or flavor profile, what do they tell you?
Can an ornithologist choose their favorite bird? Will a philatelist be able to select a favored stamp?
My response would probably be the same as these: I don’t have a favorite because I love them all.
Words have power. They have depth. The can signify courage, fear; describe emotions and colors. They can make you think of a thousand reasons “why” and answer a thousand more times “why not?”
As a writer I use words to tell a story. But I use them for so much more, really.
Here’s a quick story: John meets Mary, falls in love with her, and they marry. Eleven words that tell a story. None of the words are repeated, all but two are monosyllabic, and yet they complete a circle – beginning to end.
It should be enough. But you know it’s not. How did John and Mary meet? Why did they, with the millions of other people on the planet to choose from, fall in love with each other? When did they marry? Who are their children? Their families? What do they do to make a living? All of this is the actual story I can tell with – you got it – words.
Quite simply put, words make me happy. I like reading them on the page, speaking them out loud, hearing them, learning them, using them and playing with them.
I can’t chose a favorite. It’s impossible for me. But then, maybe my favorite word is…words.