I know some people who are fatuous.  No, I’m not talking about those who tip the scales due to their hefty size.  Being fatuous has nothing to do with physical traits but everything to do with mannerisms and attitudes.

Fatuous [fach-oo-uhs] is an adjective that means foolish or inane, especially in a complacent and smug manner. Mindless and dim-witted are synonyms of the word.  It also means an idiotic person.

At times I have been mindless.  Take, for instance, an experience I had while working in my late teens.  I worked at a fabric store.  I enjoyed sewing and I enjoyed working at the store.  My boss was much shorter than I was (and I’m NOT that tall).  He had carrot-orange hair and a funny orange bristly mustache.  He wore big glasses that reminded me of the Atom Ant cartoon character from my youth during the Mesozoic Era.

I can’t remember what I did (thank goodness for short memories).  But it was something totally fatuous (mindless).  My boss criticized me to which I replied, “Well, I just wasn’t thinking.”  (What kind of an excuse is that, I ask you?  At the time, it made sense to me . . .)

His reply has stuck with me for lo these many years.  “That’s your problem,” he said.  “You weren’t thinking.”

That comment has shaped my life in ways that my boss will never know.  I have become very observant, aware, and even critical of my thinking.  I’ve read books on thinking.  I try to improve my thinking.  (And all of this was long before the threat of Alzheimer’s loomed on my mental horizon.)

Maybe you know someone who does foolish things.  Maybe they seem rather dim-witted and dull.  Are they complacent or smug?  If so, you can describe them as being fatuous.

As I enter the downhill slope of my life, I do not want to be complacent, mindless, or inane. I want to live life to its fullest, to enjoy every possible moment, to live life with a vengeance.

I certainly don’t want to be fatuous. And I don’t want to be fat either!

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Noodge Me Not

Are you a parent?  If so, chances are that your children have hit you up to (insert here any activity that children insist on participating in).  If they perceive it to be a crucial-to-attend activity and you say no, they will whine, throw temper tantrums, sulk, and beg-and-beg-and-beg to go.

If they do, shout at them, “Noodge me not!”

Noodge not!  Such a great, dramatic phrase. (Thank you once again to the lovely Yiddish language for this word!)

Noodge [nooj] is a verb that means to pester, nag, or whine.  It describes someone who annoyingly pesters someone else with complaints or pleas.  I can imagine a child laying prostrate on the floor crying, “Please, please, please?”

It’s painful if you have a noodging child.  I think that children’s DNA come hard-wired for knowing how much it wears a parent down when they noodge incessantly about something.  Many times they kick into high gear to be particularly obnoxious in hopes of getting their way.

I say, “Parents, unite!  Stay firm.  Buck up.  Don’t give in when your child nudges you.”

If they noodge you, get even.  Noodge them back!  Cleaning their room, doing their chores around the home, or doing their homework are great things to noodge children about.  If you use similar histrionics, I bet they’ll cease and desist their own noodging!



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Looking Backwards

It’s a new year.  A fresh slate.  A time to look forward with big dreams and high hopes. Which makes today’s choice of words rather ironic.  Rather.

And what is the word?  I’ll get to that in a moment.  But first, let me explain a bit about where I stumbled across the word.  I have signed up to receive a small handful of newsletters ranging from politics to photography, from writing to marketing.   A motley crew if you ask me — and I’m NOT referring to the music group.

I recently got a newsletter that talked about the new year and suggested an activity for the readers to do.  It said that if we hadn’t done that activity, we were retrogrades.

Not quite sure what she meant, I of course had to look it up.  Of course.

Retrograde [re-truh-greyd] can be an adjective or a verb. The word comes to us from the Latin prefix retro- that means backwards or in times past. Retrograde means moving backward or declining or deteriorating. Retrograde implies movement toward the past instead of progressing into the future.

If used in connection with art, retro art refers to the pop art of the 1940s.  If connected to fashion, it refers to styles that are out-of-date like the poodle skirts of the 1950s and the tie-dyed shirts for the 1960s — or to what’s hanging in my clothes closet right now.  (I like to think of my clothing as vintage.  My children call them old fashioned. . . .)

The newsletter was about marketing and not about fashion so the writer wasn’t referring to the chic styles from days of yore.  Instead, she meant that if we hadn’t done her exercise that would propel our business forward and make us progress to higher heights (and make more money) then we were slackers that were morphing backwards. We were deteriorating in our business instead of improving it and getting ahead.

So, do you see the irony of this post?  It’s the new year where people look to the future, set goals, and vow to improve themselves.  And today’s word is about regressing.  I thought it was funny to use this word at this time. 

Don’t look at me like that! I don’t have a weird sense of humor.  I really don’t! Have you been talking to my kids??

Ahem.  Let’s move on — instead of retrograding.

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