stumping ground


Written on 4:19 PM by isko b. doo

Words intimidate me. That may seem paradoxical since I write for a living but it’s true --words intimidate me.

Consider, for example, this seven-syllable word craspedomorphology: defined as a branch of photography, which deals with the sharpness of images, clarity of detail and the resolving power of camera lenses.

If you don’t consult the dictionary and rely only on the phonetics, it would evoke a different meaning. If I had to guess, based on the sound of the word and by literally considering each syllable, I would craft a totally different definition. And it has nothing to do with photography. I would come up something like: cras = uncouth; pedo = child; morph = change; and ology = study of. So my own definition would be: the study of changing an uncouth child.

I told you it has nothing to do with photography.

Fortunately or unfortunately, much as I am threatened with them, I’m also enamored with words. The way letters make love to form syllables and syllables merge to form words, words turn to sentences, and on it goes.

I imagine I must have slobbered graffiti on my mother’s thigh the day I got out just to have the pleasure of admiring what I just scrawled. Doctors must have been surprised to find the bloodied words “I was here” on the side of my mother’s thigh running through her leg.

My love affair with graffiti continued to high school, with a trusty ballpen, or if I’m lucky, pentel pen in hand. I’d scrawl anywhere, from wet cement (your name and the date below just to be sure the owner remembers the day you vandalized his pavement), the comfort room (girls or boys), my bedroom, school, lampposts, walls. A nail cutter also comes in handy when you have to carve your name on the teacher’s desk or your own chair. It was only later I learned that carving your real name would have dire consequences. ah, the lessons of youth!

I was lucky to have been surrounded by books. From those illustrated Jesus books peddled by Christian bookstores to Disney‘s Wonderful World of Knowledge, to Winnie the Pooh classics, Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales; and even our local askal Tagpi with the immortal phrase “run Tagpi, run!” (see, it’s not Forrest Gump who ran first).

Over the years, I graduated to books without illustrations. I used to raid the room of my aunt. There’s no rhythm and rhyme to her bookshelf. Side by side with management and economics books, there are also rows and rows of mills and boons, silhouettes, and other romance novels.

Naturally, between economics and a book with a cover where the hero, naked from the waist up, scoops up the girl with prominent breasts, her blouse off-kilted, waiting for that eternal kiss, I chose the latter.

There are also surprises in reading these romance novels for a young kid with growing loins. In between pages, there’s sure to be two to three pages of hot, searing, and passionate, well, lovemaking.

Then I was introduced to Harold Robbins, WHAM! It was not only my impressionable young mind that exploded (and exploded, hehehe)... I didn’t know words could do that to your loins. Good thing, my aunt only had two titles of Harold Robbins in her shelf but I devoured them both. She must have found out about my “growing” interest from the dog-eared pages where the steamy scenes were for one day, the books were just gone.

It was books that instinctively taught me sentence construction, idioms, and creating images through words, for I never did memorize the parts of the speech even if my ass depended on it. And in some cases, it did. When I was spanked on the butt for failing the English subject.

Mostly, when I write I played by ear. If it sounded awkward, it must be grammatically wrong. You could hear purists on the background screaming, “Your rules suck!” what can I say? I’ve got years of experience sucking.

If words intimidate me, the alternative downright terrifies me. Just how do you say hello to a blank space?

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