I paced my apartment once for close to an hour trying to think of another way to describe the color of a tree's leaves than "green." They weren't green exactly, not the way I was thinking of them for the story I was writing. They were kind of a wettish earth color, fragrant in a grassy way, glossy, almost translucent. I probably ended up describing them that way, loading down the writing with my inept description of summer foliage. But the essence of the leaf's color was important because of the mood it added to the story and how it would make the reader feel. I paced for awhile, then I most likely ate some morsels out of an open Toll House bag. Still nothing, I'm sure.
So, you see, words are devil children. I need one, and it locks itself in the john. [For ref. see: The Goodbye Girl] But I especially hate when the opposite happens.
That's when a word lodges itself in my cortex like a boomerang twenty-something, munching Jingos, and completely confusing the hell out of me. I have the word, I just have no idea what to do with it. And even if I did use it, I would come off like a pompous Pulitzer-chaser and you wouldn't want to read me much longer anyway.
Here are a few words that won't go away, dammit, and I'm determined not to use them. But in a pinch, if I had to, this is what I think they mean:
ProletariatThis sounds like a game that's played with dice. Doesn't it? But to be serious, I know it's something political, possibly to do with Marx and/or Engels and/or Michael Dukakis. It's something bad. Possibly. If not, it's something exceptionally good, waging a philosophical battle against something exceptionally bad. Big statues of wheat might figure in.
EphemeraA Greek goddess. If not, it's possibly a spice used in Indian food. If neither of those, then it's a brand of vodka.
LackadaisicalI'm pretty sure this is the name of one of the rides at Six Flags over New Jersey. I saw it on an episode of the Sopranos once. Somebody lost a finger.
BereftWhat happens after you drink too much and your fine motor skills, particularly the ones controlling your tongue, go kaput.
BourgeoisThis is when people sat around and drank cassis all the time and spoke French to each other. The Proletariat might have thrown raw eggs at them, but I'm a bit fuzzier on that.
TeetotalThis is when you crash your golf cart. Definitely after drinking some Ephemera.
SimpletonI drove through this place once and all I could think of was "I would die here." If I did live there, I would probably drink a lot of Ephemera and/or cook crystal meth in the basement of a dry cleaners.
BridledThis one is tricky. Could mean: a) the result of being suckered into marriage or b) the effect of a totally kick-ass bachelorette party or c) the trashing of a wedding night hotel room or d) a brand of vodka.
WraithWasn't this the first name of the guy in The English Patient?
QuerulousNot to get sidetracked, but I have to say that what really pisses me off about this word is that you can't use it as "querul" in Scrabble, or potentially "querjulz," as might be recorded in the Urban Dictionary, so that you could lay it down on a Triple Word Score and get 99 points for that baby!! But even if I did that, I'd have to bluff and say I knew it was a real word, when I really wouldn't be sure.
What are your stumper words? C'mon, I won't tell the publishers of the world. They don't read this blog anyway. ;-)