11 December 2015


by Andy Weddington
Friday, 11 December 2015

A good way I know to find happiness, is to not bore a hole to fit the plug.  Josh Billings

A few days ago the volume on the television was low as not to completely distract while reading a philosophy art book. What program was on I do not recall but politics was being discussed and the word "plug" caught my ear and stuck. More on that in closing. 

Words interest me. And well beyond the restrictive purpose they serve. Gulp, an anagram of plug, is a word with meaning we can agree on. Glup, too, is an anagram but a (non)word that would require discussion for assignment to something before it would take on meaning (at least to those in on the discussion and assignment of word to a thing, action, or perhaps concept). 

As an aside but germane, an outing when a boy with my brothers and dad comes to mind. For some good old-fashioned (now taboo) male-bonding, we piled in the car and went to an abandoned airfield near our home Christmas morning to fly a Styrofoam and plastic bald eagle Santa delivered for one of my brothers. The bird flew by attaching a string to a hook mounted on the chest, running for lift (as flying a kite), and then yanking to free the line. 

As advertised, that is what was supposed to happen. The box's beautiful cover art showed a majestic soaring bird of prey. The simple "technical" instructions assured flight. Reality was different. And throw in fast-growing boys with awkward motor skills and reality real different. 

Clod and klutz were a couple of my dad's endearing words for his sons during those growing years - justifiably because we broke a lot of things (and injured ourselves) with thinking following the destruction. Thankfully, for preserving property and person, we grew out of it.  

Anyway, so frustrated dad became trying to fly that dumb bird, and after one of my brothers tripped and snapped a wing being the straw that broke the camel's back, in exasperation he blurted "clum." He called my brother a "clum." 

We boys stopped and stood in silence looking at each other. Puzzled. What's a "clum"? No one knew. Ah, a new word we didn't know but quickly figured out it was a verbal gaff and started giggling and laughing. And I mean laughing. As did dad start laughing. And then, with no possibility of flight that day we piled into the car, to retake his authoritative all-knowing role of "Dad," he tried to convince us clum was a legitimate word - a derivative of clumsy. Right dad! We laughed (we're clumsy not stupid) and, as only sons can do, good-naturedly mocked him. He stuck to the alibi. 

The oldest not yet teenager was I. Years passed. We never let dad forget "clum." A great memory! 

Now, how many reached for a dictionary to look up clum?!

Anyway, not too many years before he died I saw George Carlin interviewed. One of his comments, responding to query as to where ideas came from, was about how he regularly spent time perusing the dictionary studying words and entertaining combinations of words. This pastime of his did not seem at all quirky to me because for long before hearing Mr. Carlin's admission I, too, did the same. Still do. There's a dictionary within easy reach as I write. 

So, normally, when a word catches my attention I grab a dictionary. When hearing "plug" I did not. Something did first come to mind (that in a moment) and instead I closed the art book and reached for the nearest scrap of paper and a pen and jotted down everything I could think of within a few minutes. 


Plug(s) - for ears and nose but too bad not for mouth.

Plugs for sinks, tubs, vats, and tires. And plugs for most anything therefore designed or not. Holes call to be plugged. 

Plumbing - household (people, too) - gets plugged up.

Plumbers and chemicals and doctors and medicines unplug.

Electrical appliances, big and small, outfitted with cord and plug get plugged in and unplugged.

Plug and play.

Once knew a Marine who carried the moniker Plug. He wasn't skinny. 

Fisherman where I grew up called lures plugs.

Fire plugs.

Spark plugs.

Ad men plug goods and services to include for hair plugs. (Though I wonder if the plug is to restore hair, confidence, ego, or all of the above and more.) 

Official life documents detail whether or not to 'pull the plug.'

And with that that's probably about enough about plug. 

Except for that initial thought when first hearing plug - an acronym: PLUG (Politicians Lust Unfettered Greed). 

Now back to my art book while keeping an ear, unplugged, to the television.

Keep plugging along and away, folks, keep plugging along and away.

As to the opening plug for Mr. Billings, no apologies if I bored you - I'm happy. 

Post Script

In case you're wondering... Best I remember the bird, though patched, never flew as plugged (and probably couldn't - false advertising, there's a first). Miss you Dad!

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