“Early in the day, he lost his hat, so by custom all the hunting party were obliged to take off theirs.”
–From Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel.
He, of course, is Henry VIII, but similar stories could have been told about any number of tyrants, simultaneous beneficiaries and victims of custom.
Why victims? We’ll get to that. But first, let’s look at this word custom.
Intensive prefix com + suescere, literally become used to.
How long does it take for us to get used to the smell of, let’s say, the excrement from hundreds of cows and horses and pigs and sheep and goats? Pretty much every year, I voluntarily verify:
MAYBE IT DOESN’T TAKE AS LONG AS IT OUGHTA TAKE TO GET USED TO SUCH A SERIOUS STENCH-FEST
For years, my wife has been QBS. That’s Queen of the Big Screen–the replay system for sporting events. She does Spurs games most of all, but in Februarys, the team goes on the road so that those multitudes of very regular assorted mammalians can be used by their fellow earthlings to make serious coin (OK OK some of which is donated to charities).
Once a year, I subject myself to Aneurysm Boy, my name for the circus singer who does the National Anthem before the main rodeo show. I have the feeling every time he comes to the
…lahand of the FREEEEEEE
that the wall of the cerebral artery will finally yield to the unremitting assault, and he will drop to the stinky dirt, and die with his boots on.
Maybe it’s just a measure of my uneven sensory acuities that I have gotten used to the smell but not to his bellowing.
Don’t misunderstand. I wish him no such demise, regardless of how appropriate it might seem. There are some individuals in this world, though, whose demise I would have a hard time not celebrating. I could not risk going to certain funerals for fear that I would bust out in uncontrollable, and very politically incorrect, waves of laughter.
The main point, though, is that I DO get used to the smell in that arena. And our ability to become accustomed to this and that is like a dance; it reminds me of when my preacher daddy would say that I was pirouetting precariously on the precipice of perdition. You can do the most graceful pirouette in the history of dance, but if you were too close to the edge, it was not a good one.
Earlier this afternoon, I mis-heard the identification of a congressman who was being interviewed about the ban of travelers from seven majority Muslim countries. It sounded like they said he was a Republican, and I was excited that maybe a maverick had strayed from the egregious herd.
(ex, out of + greg, herd)
It was, of course, too dang good to be true. He was not just a Democrat, he was a soon-to-secede-from-the-union-California Democrat. So, still gotta wonder: what is it going to take for our Republican friends to put their big-boy hats on, defy sheepish custom and this “president,” rope him and tie him–or at the very least say to each other
What in the HELL is that smell?