Your Writer Said You Ugly

There are those who enjoy the pretty words in our language, the mellifluous, lugubrious, love-letter words we use to celebrate pretty things like sunrises and neck kisses and tulips. And those are alright, I guess.

Me, I like the dirty words. I love the words we choose to describe objects we not only do not want to kiss on the neck in the midst of a tulip-strewn sunrise, we want to avoid them and stomp them into the dirt and never hear from them again.

Take, for example, dirty. It's perfect, isn't it? First you have "dirt," a four-letter word if ever there was one. It forms in the back of your mouth and makes you make a great, unflattering face just pronouncing it, and then you have "-ee," the perfect finishing syllable. "Eww, that has dirt on it." "I know. It's dirt-y."

After Dirty, there's a whole host of filthy cousins, all shuffling around outside the front door, leaving smear marks on the wall where they leaned up against the siding and rooting around in their pockets for stray wads of lint-crusted ABC gum.

You got "Grubby," who is infested with grubs, which are themselves such ugly creatures that they're right now reminding me that I need to put out Grub-Ex grub killer on my lawn sometime in the next several weeks, because if I don't then the moles come and dig up the yard, trying to eat the grubs. Think about what we're saying to the grubs here: "You're so gross, I don't even want the things that EAT you hanging around my house." Grubby little so-and-sos.

"Lousy," which doesn't get the usage it should anymore, means, at the heart of it, "(with) lice." That's nasty. The singular of lice is louse, and if something has 'em strewn all up one side and down the other, it's lousy, and we're entitled to call it that. And we get to hurl big handfuls of that delousing powder they use in prisons at it, that stuff that always looks like it would smell like that janitor powder they haul out whenever a kid barfs on the floor.

And last in the Get-Along-Somewhere Gang, there's little "Crummy." Actually, I prefer my wife's spelling, "Crumby," which better captures the essence of this poor creature's plight: he's just the crumbs. "Yes, we know you wanted those delicious lemon poppyseed cupcakes, but they're all gone now. All that's left are... these."

"Aw, man! That's it? Crumby!"

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