Wednesday, October 29, 2003

"what's ostensibly mean again?" kristi asked me as i stuffed a huge fork full of ceasar salad into my mouth.

"what do you think it means?" i said, chewing.

"why don't you just tell me?"

"well, i-"

"excuse me, i couldn't help but overhear your conversation and i just wanted to let you know that the meaning of the word 'ostensibly' means 'to pretend.'" some hey guy('hey guy' here means anyone you'd probably only address as 'hey guy.' like say someone cut in front of you in line at the grocery store. you might be inclined, as i would be, to exclaim, 'hey guy! back of the line!' you see?) had materialized in front of us, clutching his copy of 'best true business crime writing 2000.' we stared, hamster-cheeked and wide-eyed. my sister squinted at him.

"excuse me?" she said through a bite of pepperoni pizza.

he looked at her, studying, quite rudely, really, when you think about it, i mean, who likes to be stared at by a complete stranger while they're eating? unless they're on a date, but that's different. i digress.

"are you stoned?" he asked her.

"are you?" she lobbed back.

"i'll leave you alone now." he scampered off to the front counter, leaving us in a state of 'what the hell just happened here?'

"thanks for the vocabulary lesson." i whispered, sending my sister into a fit of giggles.

"how did he hear us? he was all the way over there." she pointed and waved to the other side of the room.

"well, your voice does carry."

"oh god."

the thing of course was that he didn't even really know what the word meant, obviously. he was ostensibly pulling it out of his ass, is what was happening. even kristi, who had initiated the conversation, knew that whatever he was saying was of dubious credibility.

and then he was back, holding a pizza box with his book on top. "another good word is 'nefarious.'"

my sister cringed, thinking he meant it as an adjective about her disposition, but then he continued as he spun out the front door, pizza box wobbling: "as in, 'our nefarious president has only made the worst...'" and that was it. the door closed as he walked briskly away, still talking to himself. kristi stared after him, and thought to shout only after the door had closed, "thank you mr. dictionary!"

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