Can I just crawl in a hole now?



The Daily Prompt said, Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).

At first glance, I thought, “Hmm, I just don’t do that.”  I’m one of those people who is so paranoid about actually misusing a word that I would simply refrain from using it unless I was 100% sure of its meaning.

Since I really want to write today I sat and thought about the prompt for a moment to see if I could come up with something.  Lo and behold, I remembered WHY I don’t dare use a word I don’t know.

It happened in middle school, in front of a group of kids, most of them older than me.

Okay, so we all know that middle school is tough anyway.  You are going through so many changes, some of which are wreaking havoc with your hormones and your emotions.  Your accelerated physical development is surpassing your maturity level, making you feel like a freak of nature.  Impressing the male species comes into play, because boys are no longer gross.  For me, honestly, they never were, but I digress.  Your feelings tend to shift between feeling superior to inferior, depending on who you’re around and life feels like a roller coaster.

In spite of all that, I think I was a pretty confident junior high student, one of the young and the restless, managing to keep most of my fears at bay.  I went to a very small school and I knew everyone, making some things easier.

This particular day, if memory serves me correctly, there were approximately 4-5 kids around, and we were talking during lunch break.   We were just hanging out, each of us trying our best to be the center of attention, or at least capture the attention of “the one”.

For some reason, there was a discussion of an older person who drank a lot.  I don’t remember any details of the conversation or even who we were talking about, but boy do I ever remember my faux pas!  I decided to put my ever-growing vocabulary to use and described the poor man as a “slush”.  Yes, I said a slush.  Have you ever heard of that?  It means the same thing as a lush if you are 12 and speaking of something you know not.

In my defense, I have always had a large vocabulary and didn’t often make this type of mistake.  Imagine my horror when one of my best friends called me out on it.  We couldn’t just pretend that it didn’t happen and forget it, nor could I slither off into a hole somewhere and stay there until summer.  No, we had to announce the blunder, repeat it and laugh hysterically until everyone within earshot had begged to be in on the merriment.  I was mortified and wanted to run to the office and call my mom and go home (after I choked my friend to death on the sidewalk).  Things like this can be very traumatic for a pre-teen.

This wasn’t the only time I wanted to die at school, but it’s definitely one of the most memorable and probably single-handedly responsible for my inability to think of a time that it has happened since.


  1. Love this! Being a child of an immigrant, I can definitely relate! I would have rather eaten paper than use the wrong word or even mispronounce it. Sweet story!

  2. This reminds me of how when I was a kid I couldn’t for the life of me remember the difference between “hangnail” and “hangover.” (I swear, it wasn’t because I had experienced both!) I distinctly remember declaring in front of a group of adults that I had a terrible hangover. When I pointed to the hangnail on my finger they burst out laughing, and I just wanted to crawl into a hole.

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