Monday, May 11, 2009

Baby Come Back

by Kelli Collins

An open letter of longing…

Hello, lover. It’s been a long time. It’s me…Dictionary. I know we haven’t seen each other in a while. Well, you haven’t seen me, anyway. But I’ve been watching you from afar. Sitting atop that shelf above your computer where you left me all those years ago, flanked by a Chia pet and a coffee cup full of chewed pencils. (The latter say “hello”; they haven’t felt your touch in a while either.) I occasionally converse with Thesaurus. But, as his body now lies beneath your heavy monitor, his voice is muffled, hushed, stifled.

I saw Spellcheck’s post.

Ha! Spellcheck! That pretty-boy application with his expansive database and flashy underlining. I know his sophisticated skills are too hard to resist. Why suffer my limited capabilities, my shortcomings, when his never-ending memory swells at your whim? Though, if I may be so bold, it saddens me that you would succumb to the lure of such a pseudointellectual—n., one exhibiting intellectual pretensions that have no basis in sound scholarship; adj., of, pertaining to, or characterized by fraudulent intellectuality; unscholarly. (Can Spellcheck offer that clarification? No! He has no concept of meanings, roots, pronunciations. He can spell love…but only I can define it.)

Still, I have only myself to blame for my loneliness, I realize. I’ve let myself go—my jacket threadbare and battered, my once-stiff spine cracked and busting a stitch or two (the humidity causes the bloating, I swear!). My pages, once crisp as new linen, can no longer be skimmed swiftly, soft and wrinkled and dog-eared as they are. Ahh! The exquisite pleasure/pain of use!

I remember happier days, my covers lovingly cupped between your soft hands as you gazed upon me with inquisitive intelligence. The silky feel of your fingers tickling as they ran lightly down my columns. Such sweet shivers! Sigh…

Word has reached me of my comrades’ struggles—their fight to remain relevant in this digital age. Their painful updates, colorful new jackets and expensive reprints come at a high cost, too high for most to bear. They sit, ever-hopeful and eternally heartbroken, as potential mates pass them by. And so, like me, they collect dust, each microscopic particle silently marking the passage of time and the coming of death. (Our smallest brothers suffer most—horrific fates of ripped-off faces and discarded bodies!)

At least I have known the rapturous joy of belonging to another.

I’m not asking for a second chance or reconciliatory gesture. I understand the appeal of a younger model with more stamina, truly. But should you ever find your hands idle…ever wish for the warm, comforting scent of the finest aged paper…I’ll be waiting, friend. Ready and willing to share memories of a simpler time, when deadlines didn’t press so urgently upon you and words were a world of discovery we traveled together.

Until then, I’ll be watching, waiting…and longing. Ever your slave…



Elle Parker said...

This is brilliant! I nearly died laughing. I like this the best: He can spell love…but only I can define itElle Parker

Bill Greer said...

Dear Dictionary,

I haven't forgotten you. When I first met you, you were a bit intimidating, but the secrets you'd reveal were tantalizing. It was fun to explore everything you had to offer. I'd leave with fond memories, knowing I'd be back. Unfortunately, that was years ago.

At times I've returned, fondling your pages, massaging your spine, and immersing myself in the foreplay of unknown words and variant spellings. Sometimes it was just okay and I knew you weren't quite right for me. Other times, you were perfect, building to that climax, that moment when I knew that I had found just what I was looking for! Those moments are fleeting, though.

Truth be told, Dictionary, you're not a good cuddler. When we were done, you'd be no different. I couldn't satisfy you. I'd appreciate the pleasure you'd given me, but I could never reciprocate. Then you got old, bloated, and couldn't even stand up straight at times. Doing it for old times' sake can be fun every once in a while, but you've never changed.

There are younger versions of your type, plentiful, and, here's the best part, they're free and easy! I miss the foreplay, but these online vixens give me what I want and when I want it. I can even have several of them at once, an orgy of a kind you'll never know. Perhaps instant gratification is cheap and maybe that says more about me than about you, but I'm trying to be honest here.

Sometimes the truth can be hurtful. I see you from across the room and feel pity at times. I know you don't want pity. You want interaction! You want to be fondled and explored. You want to be appreciated for the wisdom that comes with age. I'm not the man for you. Perhaps others are.

I hope you find solace in the past we've shared. As I said, I've never forgotten you.


Ann Bruce said...

My OED probably wants to be put out of its misery.

My poor "desk" (aka abridged paperback) OED's on life support. The poor thing's falling apart at the seams quite literally. (The "shelf" [aka unabridged hardcover] OED is too heavy to use on a regular basis and still retains the new book smell.)

I'd get another one, but it's been with me since junior high (and I'm cheap). Maybe some self-adhesive plastic will hold it together for another two decades of use.

Ann Bruce said...

KC - Now I have Hall and Oates in my head. That's just evil.

Debra Glass said...

I felt his pain but I liked Bill's dear John letter to Dictionary. Fantastic article!

Anonymous said...

Elle, thank you...and congrats on your upcoming book release. (Oh, and good luck with Twitter. Been wading those waters myself lately.)

Bill, am I responsible for inspiring this stunning post??? You make me proud. Single tear, pal...single tear.

Hall and Oates are coming back any day now, Ann. I can feel it. (In the meantime, check out Garfunkel and Oates on YouTube.)


Ps (Verification word: "gelegas". Isn't that a LOTR character?)

Ann Bruce said...


My geekiness knows no bounds.

Bill Greer said...

Thanks for the inspiration, Kelli. I made that my writing assignment for the day.

Belle Scarlett said...

Hilarious post, KC. It's true, my skimpy computer dictionary/thesaurus have a lot to learn from the paper ones on my desk!

Garfunkel and Oates rule!

Belle Scarlett

Marianne Stephens said...

Funny! I was motivated to look at your cousin who sits prominently on the left side of my desk. Webster's New World Dictionary (large print version for old eyes) is worn and torn with age...but can still give me a "thrill" when I need an occasional glance through its pages.
Yes, Bill...cuddling is not Dictionary's specialty. But the red cover reminds me of heat, and that leads me to think of hot steamy scenes, and...I write!

Desiree Holt said...

Kelli! this is so fantastic. I absolutely have to keep it. And I have not one but two dictionaries on my desk.

Wylie Kinson said...

Damn you, KC! I spewed my coffee and barely managed to turn my head quickly enough to miss the keyboard.
Alas... the caffinated spray hit my beloved dictionary, open to 'obstreperous' (adj. unruly, noisy).

Interesting... my dictionary is the Collins mini :D

Mona Risk said...

Dear dictionary, I've replaced you with your younger and much modern cousin Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. He knows the value of time and gives me very fast answer, including examples. To be honest I can't live without Randy anymore. Tough, you should adjust to your time.

Ericka Scott said...

I don't think I've laughed so hard in months! Thanks!

Blayne Edwards said...

My Loving Dictionary,

How very typical of reference material to assume a writer’s waning interest in him is due entirely to her passion for another. Did it even once occur to you that over the years my grammaticalistic needs may have changed? That perhaps because I’ve grown as a writer your conventional vocabularic assistance benefits my creative urge no longer?

You were good to me, Dic, and for that I am eternalistically grateful. How could I ever forget the lessons you taught me on nouns and verbs? Without your wisdom and patience I’m quite sure the public school system’s “affect” on me would have “effected” me for the rest of my creative life.

Rest assured, it is not for Spellcheck that I am leaving you. It is for me. Or myself. Or….hang on a second and let me look that one up in my trusty little Webster’s Collegiate handbo…

Oh dear. I fear I may have said too much.

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