Growing My Vocabulary
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In my reading lately, particularly City on Fire and Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, I have encountered a lot of vocabulary words that I don’t know, many of them I probably should. I feel like I would have known what perspicacious and munificent meant when I was taking the SAT’s but these days I read them, gloss over them, figure I half know them from the context of the sentence and move on. But were I called upon to define them I could scarcely muster a “um, it means like capably perspiring and municipally sufficient.” (It means having a keen understanding and extremely generous, respectively.)

In order to hammer these home I figure it’s a good exercise to use them. So, below, I present to you a brief story in which I use all of the vocab words that I have recently come upon. Enjoy!


Over the years Rupert and Beverly had endured their connubial vicissitudes and yet here they sat in a French bistro, having a postprandial conversation adumbrating their eventual split. Their internecine bickering, once a sort of puerile foreplay, was now like an anodyne, the one thing they still enjoyed doing together.

“You certainly seem parsimonious this evening,” said Rupert.

“Oh, do I?” Beverly sighed. “I was hoping I appeared insouciant. The truth is I feel otiose and malingering.”

“Did you know that a semaphore is an apparatus for conveying information by means of visual signals?”

“Dammit, Rupert! Don’t be so obstreperous. There’s no need for such vituperative asperity.”

“I wasn’t lacerating you, my pulchritudinous bride! You’re normally so perspicacious,” Rupert paused. “Is it the dipsomania?”

“How dare you,” Beverly spat and then guiltily moved her wine glass away from her on the table. “Yes, Rupert, like the Greek root dips, meaning thirst, I drink. I drink to try to make myself a somnambulant! Because I can’t keep living like this.”

“Like what? You used to be sanguine and now you’re so recalcitrant! You’re being garrulous, unctuous, tendentious and torporific.”

“Am I?”

“I don’t really know, actually. Maybe?”

“Rupert, you’ve changed. You used to be so handsome. Now you look like a tatterdemalion mendicant.”

“Oh, and I suppose I look macrocephalic!”

“I don’t know, Rupert. I have no gift for cephalometry. I’m sure most diadems would fit on your head.”

They sat in silence. Rupert put his hands in his lap, looked away from his wife and softly whispered, “Eschatology.”

“Pardon?”

“It’s not worth repeating.”

The waiter brought their check. “You folks can ululate with pedantic opprobrium whenever you want,” he said. “Also, a ziggurat is a Sumerian temple.”

Beverly sighed. “This isn’t going to work, is it?”

“No. But we sure gave it a hell of a shot.”

“What now, Rupert? We’re middle aged. Are we going to learn the prurient argot of online dating sites?” she asked rhetorically, like a pedagogical arriviste.

Rupert chuckled. “I guess so.”

Rupert left a hundred dollar bill on the table. With pecuniary matters settled and these mutual interlocutors at an impasse, they left the restaurant just as estranged as when they entered but no longer lying to themselves. On Monday lawyers would be called and friends would be told, commencing the perfervid side-taking and the jeremiads regarding their quondam marriage.

But later they night, one last time, they boned. And it was, like, pretty sweet.

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