Breathe, Emma, breathe! You can do this. Don’t lose your nerve now! She took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. Schooling her features into a practised smile, her expression revealed nothing of the raging battle she was engaged in internally, willing her thumping heart to slow down and coaxing her breathing into a seemingly regular rhythm.
“You see, the incongruities of the situation are quite anecdotal. I said to Donald. You shouldn’t say ‘irregardless’; it’s an Americanism, a pleonasm*. He replied saying I’m prone to being superfluous and pedantic.Did you know the word ‘pedantic’ is derivative of the word ‘pedant’ which itself originates from the Latin…”
She stopped listening and retreated into her mind, into the parallel universe she’d created where grammar simply didn’t exist. Harry continued to drone on about his ‘intellectual discourse’. That’s what he liked to call it; she could think of many other choice words but wouldn’t dare let them see the light of day.
It was the only way she could get through their ‘date night’. What a farce! Anybody looking at them would think they were a regular couple. They were anything but!
She’d noticed Harry first. He came in to Bookers once a week and would browse books for hours. She worked as the floor supervisor and usually dealt with his inquiries about some book or the other. She’d been enamoured with Harry, his extensive vocabulary and love for words. She could listen to the cadence of his voice as he spoke for hours. Well, actually Harry didn’t just speak, he “postulated”; he didn’t just think or speculate but “theorised and hypothesized”; he didn’t just argue, he “elucidated” and on and on.
She wasn’t what you’d call pretty or even attractive. She’d come to terms with the fact that she would never turn heads like some girls did and had resigned herself to being an old maid as she had no hope of any man falling for her. So when he asked her out on a date, she couldn’t believe her good fortune.
He took her to an open mike evening where he read out some of his poetry. She was impressed and felt even more privileged that he’d chosen her instead of any number of girls he could have had. One thing led to another and soon they were living together. She would have much preferred he made an honest woman of her, she was old-fashioned like that but she kept reminding herself that she was a getting a much better deal than she’d ever hoped.
She wasn’t in the habit of expressing her feelings to Harry, at least not anymore. Every time she offered an opinion, he would shoot her down, correct her pronunciation, and tell her she’d used the wrong word or expression. She soon came to learn it was best not to say anything.
But not this time! This was one time too many and she’d had it.
“That’s it; I’ve had enough! I can’t take anymore of this nonsense! I’m leaving.” She yelled as she sprang out her chair back sending it hurtling into the air and landing with a loud bang, grabbed her handbag and started to walk out of the restaurant.
Harry cast a surreptitious glance at the other patrons who were gaping at them, threw some bills on the table and slunk out of the restaurant.
“What do you mean you’re ‘leaving’? He asked, stunned, as he caught up with her outside.
“I mean, I can’t live with you any longer. I can’t take any more of your sesquipedalian* put-downs. I may be malapropistic* and commit logocide* sometimes but your constant employment of tautology* is driving me mad. The constant logomachies* are doing my head in!” She shook her finger in his face, just missing his bulging eyeballs.
“You accuse me of verbicide* yet you yourself are uxoricidal*! Your orthoepy* doesn’t give you the right to constantly belittle me. You denigrate, disparage and deprecate me every chance you get.
“What’s up? Cat got your tongue?” She asked as he stared at her in shock.
She sauntered off, teetering in the high heels she’d worn to please him, not that he’d noticed or acknowledged, smiling in the knowledge that she could boast of something very few, if any, could – getting one up on Harry; and for the first time since she’d known him, he was at a complete loss for words.
*Logomachy – dispute over words
*Malapropism – an act or habit of using words ridiculously; confusion of words that are similar in sound
*Orthoepy – study of correct pronunciation of words
*Pleonasm – redundant word
*Sesquipedalian – given to using long words
*Logocide/verbicide – destruction of the meaning of words
*Suitorcide – killing of a suitor’s chances with a potential mate
*Uxoricidal – tendency to murder one’s wife
*Tautology – needless repetition of the same sense in different words