Tuesday, January 10, 2017

William and Otherwise

To take the chill off yesterday afternoon, with the falling snow we had around here and the dip in temperatures,  after the fitness center after work, I made a quick stop into the sandwich place that used to have the guy who lost all the weight eating their sandwiches as their spokesman. Yeah, that guy.

Anyway, I had a bowl of 'homemade vegetable soup' (to warm me up from the inside) with my sandwich, which I call 'samwich' inspired by a half-memory of Soupy Sales, I think. I do wish the ghosts of past lives would wear name tags when they wander the corridors of my memory so I'd know how to sort them.

It was really, really, good soup-and I asked the fellow who is always there (I think he's the franchise owner), how he knew. He was puzzled by my question and offered his own, 'how did I know what?' "How did you know this was what my homemade vegetable soup was supposed to taste like?" I asked. Maybe he thought I was joking but I didn't think I was.

Point in fact, my homemade vegetable soup would taste different from yours. It would have to, right? Unless we're twin sons of different mothers. And what about the people who are adopted or who were raised by relatives other than their own parents. How about those raised by wolves, looking at cabinet nominees (nope, no quarter given here, bigly). What does their homemade vegetable soup taste like?

We bandy words around sometimes like there's a common meaning everyone knows when there isn't. Sometimes shared references really aren't. No matter our physical appearances, when it comes to words, we are often a lot like Humpty Dumpty (I'm always funny side up, personality-wise).

Even though we may use the same words, they can and often do, have very different meanings to and for each of us. If a cat had kittens in an oven, you wouldn't call them biscuits, right? That saying makes me happier than a wooden spoon at a spelling bee. I must thank Dave Malone for the former expression and Scott Adams for the latter.

Language should create a frame of common reference and enlarge the body of shared knowledge to enhance understanding and further communication, not mask meaning and disguise intentions. Nothing is less clear than synthetic agreement or more harmful than coerced consensus.

Honesty is something we claim to always want but rarely welcome and is always in short supply especially on a chilly day here in New England in January. Perhaps we should go to your house and have some alphabet soup.
-bill kenny

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