Sunday, October 16, 2011


The prompt for this week was a little unusual. Rachel gave us a choice of two options. The first was to use the same word in each sentence of the exercise. The second was to make up a word and write about it, but never overtly define it.

I took a while to decide which direction I wanted to go. I was leaning toward the first option, but the idea of making up a word fascinated me. I read an article about the unit of measurement called the smoot today, and that made the decision for me. It seems that one Oliver R. Smoot, while performing a fraternity pledge prank at MIT in 1958, used the length of his prone body as a measuring stick. He and his fellow pledges proceeded to measure the length of the Harvard Bridge by picking him up and laying him down across the entire span. Each smoot was duly marked on the bridge. The marks are repainted to this day by MIT students. Incidentally, the smoot is 5'7" or 1.7018 meters and the bridge measures 364.4 smoots. MIT grads are wont to utilize the smoot anywhere they can and the smoot is a unit of measurement for both Google Calculator and Google Earth.

With the smoot as my guide, I decided to invent a word. I thought about making up a unit of length or time, but neither seemed to work for me. Then I recalled something that Superbomba Lucy Diamond-Philips posted on Facebook one time. It was just two words, but brought back all sorts of memories and the kind of universal good feeling that I ascribe to very few things in this world.

So I had the definition, just not the word. I wrote the entire piece out, but struggled for a while on the word. I translated the English into several languages, looking for words that looked authentic. I finally found something that I modified a bit and it sounded... real... to me. It had the soft, round, earthy sound that I was looking for. I had welpa, a word to describe something everyone knows, something that is fleeting, but unmistakable, something that stays with you your entire life.


    “Some people can’t stand it, you know,” Stacey said. “Welpa. Some people hate it.”

    “Nobody I know,” he said. “It reminds me of the beginning of things.”

    “I hate welpa.”

    Ben stared at her for a moment. “You don’t like welpa?” he asked.

    There were things about her that he would never understand. In all the time that he’d known her, she’d never once shown any sense of nostalgia... any evidence that she’d ever lost something or someone she’d cared for.

    “It’s filthy and gross. It makes me want to vomit,” she said.

    It was plain to see that she was telling the truth. She did hate welpa. This wasn’t just her being contrary or trying to pick a fight. She did that at times. It was usually late at night when he was too tired to think. They would go around and around, Stacey growing more angry and Ben losing steam, but knowing that he couldn’t actually sleep until the disagreement had been resolved.

    Stacey sat back on the bench and folded her arms over her chest. Ben sat quietly beside her, unsure of what to say.

    They’d had this dog, Angie, when Ben was a kid. She’d been named after the Rolling Stones song, which was strange, because he never recalled his parents actually listening to the Stones. Angie got pregnant by some dog roaming the neighborhood and had three puppies. The first two were stillborn, but the third came out healthy. Angie nursed that pup and he grew fat.

On Sunday afternoon, Ben cleaned the box in the corner of the porch where Angie kept the yet unnamed pup. He ripped up the week’s newspapers into long strips and used them for bedding. He removed the puppy and lifted him up to his face. Its tongue curled in the shape of a “U” that seemed more natural than anything he’d ever seen. His eyes, just starting to crack open, were blue like the ocean and the ears were just flaps and wrinkles. The welpa enveloped him. He set the pup in a small cardboard box and removed the old newspaper, smeared with puppy poop, and put it in a big plastic garbage bag. He then wiped the floor of the box with a soapy rag and let it dry, before putting the newspaper and puppy back inside.

    Sunday night he came back and found Angie curled up with her legs hanging out of the box and the pup dead on the floor. She had eaten the top of his head, leaving intact the lower jaw and the tongue... the tongue that had been a perfect U, but was now flat.

    Sitting there beside Stacey, he recalled the welpa and the smell of the newspaper and the soap. And he remembered the way Angie jumped up and wagged her tail when she saw him, having already forgotten her pup.


Angela said...

My guess? Puppy breath

A big, anal pounding fuck you for naming the baby eater Angie

Joey B said...