HOW SWEET IT IS
“What? You swallowed a dictionary or something?” I don’t know how many times I was asked that question when I was at school. Somewhat in the manner of young Joseph flashing his many-coloured coat I was probably unwise to use my precocious vocabulary in front of my classmates. Like Joseph’s brothers, it really got up their noses. Sure, the question was rhetorical and said with an accompanying laugh, but it often sounded like a put down.
So for many years I deliberately dumbed down and used words of one syllable wherever possible. With changes in life experience I met people with unselfconscious, unstunted vocabularies. On hearing a new word I either ask the meaning or make a note in the ubiquitous jotter that travels in my handbag and consult the dictionary later. With the confidence that comes with age I'm less concerned with what people think and now I, too, use the words that live in my head. But wouldn’t you know it, I still get that old put down from many adults. To compensate for ignorance they invariably decide attack is the best form of defence, conscript support from bystanders and come in with all guns blazing; “Ho ho, you swallowed a dictionary?”
These days I just have a good laugh with them, and silently marvel. Some people will never know how sweet a dictionary tastes!