Versatur Circa Quid!
No less an authority on speaking one’s mind than Mark Twain knew that the artificial concept called Free Speech is best left to the dead. That’s why many of his franker observations on God and the human condition were held back from publication until well after Twain’s employer, Mr. Samuel Clemens, joined the ever growing legion of Spirits (which currently outnumbers the living thirty to one), in 1910. I, Judge Jasper P. Montague, Quillemender, know all about the sweet freedom of death, for I have been a member of the Spirit world eight years longer than Mr. Clemens/Twain, which means I am free to “overshare” with impunity.
In what seems to me to be a naked attempt to use me as a dead-meat shield to conceal her intense scorn for the American education system (mainly as such pertains to the basic knowledge), while still getting it across anyway, my great great great great granddaughter, and the author of this piece, Leila Allison, has asked me to apply my gift of Free Speech in the manner of a forward foreword, because she knows I enjoy offending the dolts. The preceding sentence weighs in at eighty words; yet if it were ten times the length it still wouldn’t be able to adequately relate the intense scorn Leila has for the American education system.
Plainly put,Leila doubts that the startling percentage of college graduates who do not know what causes the seasons, why the sky is blue or that the Civil War preceded the Holocaust is likely to cross homophone with homophobe, then come after her with hatchets formed from sentence fragments and stultifying ignorance on social media. (This fifty-five word thought is a seemingly changeless truth. Every so often someone from one Liberal Arts journal or another will lurk around the graduation ceremony at a major university and ask a fresh face under a mortarboard to participate in a survey, in exchange for something like a Snickers bar. Less than thirty percent of those sober enough to do so know the correct answer to all three of those things at the same time.)
Since the subtle (an according to some, pointless) Homophonic Spirit who (surprise) uses the homophone (plus mixing in bits of the homonym and the homograph–but why further confuse the ignorant) to get across to the living is the star of Leila’s latest Feeble Fable, this doubt has weighed heavily on her. But she didn’t want to come out and say it, lest she offend the few persons who might know, yet she feared disaster if she omitted the definition. I suggested that she go the way we did back when I walked the Earth–diplomatically: “As your author is certain you remember from third grade, a homophone is…etc etc…” Alas, she must have stayed home the day they taught tact at her school.
So she came to me to avoid the recent small media “shitsquall” (Leila’s term, not mine) recently endured by Stephen King, who unthinkingly tweeted something to the effect that maybe cocktail waitresses in Florida aren’t all that they should be. (Who knew that so many hypersensitive Floridian cocktail waitresses followed King on Twitter?) Anyway, out of familial affection I’ve waited till now to point out that items read by next to no one, lie in the same safety as those written in a dead language, and that if she ever does offend someone with a seemingly classist and or insensitive remark, she should view it as an uptick in her “career.” But I held it back at the time, and have done as she asked.
So hear goes, Dolts: A homophone is a word that sounds like another word but is spelled different and has a different meaning. Think “bear and bare”; “their, there, they’re”; “Witch and which.” There are zillions of them. In no way, however, are “should of, could of, would of” are proper homophones for should’ve, could’ve and would’ve”; for “all intensive purposes” those fall under the heading of the stultifying ignorance that has led to the creation of this forward foreword. And although homophonic and homophobic kind’ve sort’ve meet the requirement, rest assured, the Homophonic Spirit whole heartedly supports the LGBT community (without the prodding or else) and is not at all offended by or afraid of a picture of Freddie Mercury wearing pink hot pants.
There are all kinds of Grammar Spirits. You have your Palindromeamores, the To Boldly Split Infinitives, the Premature Interjections, it goes on and on. In fact, I, Quillemender, am a Grammar Spirit, and on the Great Tree of Afterlife, you’ll locate my branch close to that of the Homophonic, but at a significantly higher level.
I sighed in order to get out of the preceding paragraph, so I may provide the following information even though it has been repeated ad nauseum in prior works by myself and my kin (who correctly harbors the depressing suspicion that few readers return for a second “hit” off The Leila Allison Experience; she’s also afraid of long paragraphs, which will force me to sigh once again before I may provide the additional information that this paragraph has failed to produce because this parenthetical aside has made it too late in this current paragraph to produce it).
I am a Quillemender Spirit. We “Quills” use thermodynamics to alter the written words of the living. It doesn’t matter if you wrote it in Google docs or on the bathroom wall with a bloody finger, we can change it, if we so wish. Why? Why do caged birds sing? Why do Adverberators go round attaching “ly” to perfectly sound fellow articles? For the pure hell of it, dolt, that’s why. In Leila’s case, however, the job is different because true Quillemending is a mischievous prank played on a writer who has just unwittingly emailed: DEAR, MULE ANUS instead of the RE: SAMUEL DANA he thought he had sent his boss. But here, Leila opened a file in her
Chromebook, held the letter X down for a while and asked me to go at it.
Which is precisely what I have done. And now I must spend my dwindling X budget on a list which compares the Homophonic to my mightiness, as to provide a clear picture of exactly what it is my cousin does, and why I am his superior. So far I’ve (mostly) avoided insulting my kindred Spirit (whom I shall refer to as “him” off and on, as needed, no matter what that imbecile, the Pronoun Pounce has to say about it); but as even a dolt with an American college education can see, my cousin is pushcart .
- Quills are ancient. We’ve been around since the first cave painting caption (or the first love letter in the Garden, if you must). Phonics didn’t join the haunt until the late 1990s.
- Quillemending is an art. I improve that which I most graciously deign to emend; this forward foreword should stand as a fine example of my craft. Phonics seize all words in a sent text; those with homophones are immediately altered on their way to the recipient, whilst the singulars are grudgingly left untouched. Just text I LOVE YOU to your mother. If she receives EYE LUV* EWE, then you have not only sent her a missive but also infected her device with a Homophonic. Dolts and their relations never quarantine; they never mask-up, as such is spoken in the new yet already tiresome idiom. Soon their entire network is infected with the small-minded pox that defines the Homophonic. Not so oddly, most dolts are slow to notice. (*Even though “luv” is considered, by some, phonetic, Homophonics cannot use a phonetic spelling of a word that lacks a homonym as a homonym until such has been long in common practice.)
There you have it! Another work of art graciously created by a Quillemender!
Versatur Circa Quid!
(Sigh…it’s Latin for “What Comes Round Goes Round.”)
Judge Jasper P. Montague, Quillemeder
Hannah and the Homophonic: A Feeble Fable of the Fantasmagorical
Hannah Rees, a cocktail waitress from Assagassa, Florida, awoke at noon. Soon her cheeks were redder than the lowest level in hell. Like most Floridian cocktail waitresses, Hannah began her day catching up on Stephen King’s Twitter feed. After a long night of dealing with the kook of a cook performing toot solos inthe back of the house, whilst she served boob eye poop heads in the lounge–dealing with sexual harassment from every direction imaginable (“y’all gotta tat on ya’ tit?”), whatever contents the Master of the Macabre evacuated from his head, in a hundred-forty-four characters or less, usually helped to ease the pain. You see, sometimes poor Hannah felt that her life looked the same front to back and back to front, and held few surprises.
Then to make things worse, she saw it. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Her Hero of Horror had taken a swipe at the political pinata that was the outgoing White House Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnenay. Although Hannah had no more love for Ms. McEnany than she had for Henrich Himmler, she was instantly offended by latest King’s tweet:
“Enjoy your next job as a cocktail waitress in Tampa.”
Tweeting is like playing with a loaded stupid gun. Fuck around with the goddam thing long enough and it’s sure to go off. And when a stupid gun does go off it doesn’t matter how much good the person who had been fiddling around with it has done in his/her life. That person is immediately ganged up on in the town square and winds up like Tessie Hutchinson at the end of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. Even (especially) persons capable of tweeting the exact same junk, or worse, gather stones and hurl them.
One of the sadder facts of life is that smart people (like Mr. King) get caught doing stupid shit more often than the average stupid fucker is seen doing something intelligent. Being human causes that. It’s easy to imagine someone with a mind getting into an erudite “yo mama” sort of contest, then, in the heat of the bon mot exchange, uncharacteristically forgetting to measure twice, tweet once before tapping send. You can almost see King’s hands clawing at the ether in a hopeless effort to get that shitbomb back, but it was too late. Best to hope no one will notice. Unfortunately, noticing the mistakes made by smart people is what stupid fuckers excel at.
Still, Hannah was not a stupid fucker. In fact her IQ was even a bit higher than Mr. King’s. But she suffered from bad luck, clinical depression and her self esteem had been taking a social media beat down because she was a white southerner, therefore automatically classified by people who denounce classifying other people except when they do it as a hillbilly racist. And it just plain hurt to see someone who’d come up from the poorest level of the working class say such a mean thing. It felt personal, and made her coffee taste all the more bitter and she wanted a cigarette, even though she had licked that habit a year ago.
It seemed that the only way to let the poison out was through spitting bile. Her only recourse was to tweet on his line and come off like an undereducated, touchy dumbass incapable of letting the small stuff slide. Intelligent enough to know that writing a rambling tweet (which is possible to do at or under a hundred-forty-four) wasn’t the smart way to go, but still obliged to hurl a stone, Hannah apathetically tossed ASSHOLE! in the author’s direction. It immediately boomeranged onto her phone as ASP HO!
A faint flicker of hope entered Hannah’s bleak mental outlook.
The source of Hannah’s depression had been her recent disconnection from the Spirit World. Before taking up waitressing, she had been a successful Mystic. For years she ran a florist/fortune teller shoppe in Miami called “Flowers and Powers.” A Palindromeamore Spirit, who had been a close friend of Hannah’s since childhood, suggested that she add “Seer, Hannah Rees” to the sign. Which is exactly what she did.
Flowers and Powers had been a big hit. Hannah even had a standing special, which she had devised because it looked clever on the reader board outside:
IF YOUR NAME IS DESTINY, COME IN FOR A FREE ROSE
IF YOUR NAME IS ROSE, COME IN FOR YOUR FREE DESTINY
(ID REQUIRED. LIMIT ONE)
(Who knew that there were so many strippers in Miami named “Destiny Rose?” Not that there’s anything wrong with that!!!)
Although Spirits do not know anymore about the future than the living, the eclectic variety of specialized Spirits Hannah’s friend the Palindromeamore had introduced her to over the years, had made her a leading medium in that half-baked field. She consorted with Pantrydrafts and Shadowghosts and Quillemenders and Candlehuffs and Tipplegangers…oh, it is extremely diverse on the Otherside. And being a born storyteller, Hannah would regale clients with tales of the phantasmagorical instead of reading their fortunes, and hardly anyone noticed.
Oh, Hannah had a good thing going. And she thought about taking it online until a goddam Wishingwellwraith came round and queered the party. Wishingwellwraiths (3-Dubz) are the grifters of the Spirit Realm. Typically “One Percenters” in life, 3-Dubz remain infatuated with gaining wealth through dubious methods in death even though they do not need anything money can buy, much less can they spend it. 3-Dubz usually have to settle for a gig at the bottom of a wishing well and take coins for wishes that they haven’t the power (or intention) to grant. 3-Dubz are misers who just love to watch their stacks grow.
Somehow the 3-Dubz that came around Flowers and Powers had convinced the other Spirits to go on strike until Hannah sweetened the pot, “ya’ know, cut us in on the action.” Even her pal the Palindromeamore clammed up. This hurt Hannah’s feelings because A.) She was breathing and needed the money; B.) It wasn’t like she was raking in a fortune; C.) She had given Spirits a way of communicating with the living that they would not have otherwise. But mostly, it was the money.
The impasse had been going for months, and it had taken the love Hannah had for Flowers and Powers out of her heart. So she boarded the joint up and moved to Assagassa to start over.
With all that in mind, Hannah gazed at her phone knowing that only a Homophonic could change ASSHOLE! to ASP HO! This notion was given legs by the fact that her text hadn’t gone to the Twitter address she had sent it to, even though that number was still where it should be. Someone had intercepted it and sent it back to her–as Homophonics are known to do when they wish to parlay.
With cautious optimism, Hannah texted WHO? and got HOO? Then she went all in and sent EYE YAM HOMO FAUN ICK HERE MI RAW. Instantly, I AM HOMOPHONIC HEAR ME ROAR flashed onto her screen.
It seemed that the Spirits “Financial Advisor” had deserted the team and took up residence in a fountain near the Dade County Courthouse. It seemed that all that glitters was the Wishingwellwraith’s motto, and that he really had no use for his fellow Spirits since they didn’t have as much credit needed to secure a payday loan, let alone any intrinsic value. And it seemed that the Homophonic, the Tippleganger, the Candlehuff, her dear friend (yet limited in vocabulary) Palindromeamore, plus the others in the multitude were deeply sorry and wanted nothing more than to start over again.
Hannah played them for a bit, but she had already decided to take them back. She knew that Spirits had the morals of cats and that was just the way things went.
Not long from now, the Assagassa Flowers and Powers will have its grand opening. Stephen King has been invited to come by for a free rose and destiny–but the abundance of strip clubs on the main drag will keep the old special off the reader board.
THE AMORAL: Ess Kay Bee Where: Fore Caught Tale Weight Tresses Half Ewe Knighted!!!