The English language is full of pitfalls.



The word “rooster” has come to replace the older word “cock,” meaning “male chicken”; the older (and perfectly respectable) word is now a vulgarism, although it still shows up in contexts like “fighting cocks” and “cock-a-doodle-doo.”



You have to watch your language.



I was putting together a bicycle rack the other day out of the sidewalk. It was fairly straightforward – just simple nuts and bolts. But one of the nuts jumped out of my hand. As I walked back and forth looking for it, our mailman came by. “Looking for something?” he asked.



“Yeah,” I said. “I’m looking for my – um – “ (Now, think about how ridiculous I would have sounded if I’d finished the sentence with the right word. So I was a coward and decided to use the wrong word.) “Bolt,” I said. “I dropped a bolt.”



He pointed at the bolt I’d just put down. “Is that it?”



“Nah,” I said. “Different one. I’m sure I’ll find it. It must be around here somewhere. It probably just rolled away. I’ll just buy a new one.”



Just imagine if I’d used the right word, kids. Just imagine!


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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