Winning Words

So, Wendy and Madeline came up to me and said, “We’d like you to speak at the 30th anniversary dinner,” and I said, “WOW!”

And they said: “That’s exactly it! We want you to talk about Words of the Week over the decades, and who came up with them, a sort of VIGNETTE (Bhairav).

“What’s more, we want you to do it ADROITLY (Edythe), with CHARISMA (Queene), COURTESY (Madeline), PIQUANCY (Eddie) and UNCURBED (Miriam) BANALITY (Peggy); and, moreover, without any embarrassing gaps or LACUNAE (Heather).”

And don’t be DITHERY,” chimed in Alice.

I daresay no one would object,” came a voice over my shoulder, “if you added a little SCHMALTZ (Dahlia).”

“The introduction to any speech is crucial, so I’ll coach you on your EXORDIUM, offered Joel. “Make sure it’s VERBATIM,” cautioned Steve.

“You may include a bit of BRAVADO (Henry) and some LITERACY (Zelig). Try to be OBEISANT (David L) and avoid speaking WOODENLY (Sam). Do your best to TITIVATE (Sara) -— and, above all, beware the use of UMLAUTS (Joan B).”

All these instructions from the OVERWISE (Ami) struck me as somewhat INVASIVE (Aryeh), and I was beginning to regret the entire ESCAPADE (Wendy).

“Do I have to speak at all?” I asked in my NAIVETE (Josh). “Couldn’t I just TAGALONG (Roger)?” Alas, they remained OBDURATE (Berenice).

“Don’t BROWBEAT (Chani) the poor DAMOSEL,” Sara called out. “You don’t want to drive her to SUICIDE (Joan T).” Or REGICIDE (Liran)!” Give her some SEAWATER (Rena). That’ll bring her round.”

The imperious commands continued. “Be ORACULAR (Mia), and never DILATORY (Raquelle). You can consult your COMPUTER (Jonathan), or some THESAURI (Zev) — though if you did it to SATIETY (David S), you could wake up from your SHUTEYE (David L) with ANOOPSIA (Sam), where one of your eyes focuses upwards, while the other gazes straight ahead.”

This scary pronouncement gave me severe TREPANGS (Hazel) -— until i discovered that the word actually refers to a sea cucumber used in Chinese soup.

“I will, I will,” I answered to all these IMMODEST (Etta) requests. “I’m not the ZOOTIEST (David S) of people -— there’s nothing flashy about my manner, even though I’ve shed my BURNOOSE (Pamela) for tonight, and I’m not carrying my ASSEGAI (Rose). Who needs a weapon in such FABULOUS (Evelyn) company? Besides, they say the MESSIAH (Ruth O) is on his way, and we’ll be drinking plenty of LEHAYIMS (Sam).”

A club member standing ADJACENT (Nechama) to our little group moved closer. “We’ve heard that you sing. Could you perhaps oblige us with a little CANTICLE (Aryeh)?”

I decided then and there that the whole business was getting out of hand. “What do you think I am?” I asked them. “The EMPRESS (Shirley) of song? Or some kind of stuntman or AEROBAT (David N)? I’m starting to feel quite DECREPIT (Randy). In my opinion, you all think far too highly of yourselves -— OVERWEENING (Eddie) is the word for it.

How about this FANDANGO (Barry), then?” I asked rhetorically. “Quite a song and dance, isn’t it?” “It’s PERFECTO!” exclaimed Rita -— which I learned only later is a medium-sized cigar.

Before I went completely mad, I decided to bring this GHOULISH (Peta) JEREMIAD (Hilda) to an end, and to SKIDDOO (Queene). Which I did.