Ah, paper! Such treasures it holds in an agglomeration of ideas: all the little scribbles and notes I write to myself. I've gone through a stash of paper, taking notes on notes (huge list of people i have to write. Does anyone else feel this compulsion/need to communicate?) I'll try to get through it all; haven't forgotten what I want to get back to. So:
1) Sherpa, noun: (pl. same or Sherpas) a member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering.• informal a civil servant or diplomat who undertakes preparatory work prior to a summit conference. ORIGIN from Tibetan sharpa ‘inhabitant of an Eastern country’.
Hold on. This is not word-search tonight. Early evening yesterday I was heading for the hall towards the elevator in my wing when I met a neighbour from a lower floor heading the same way. I was carrying the planting paraphernalia, the picnic equipment,my big handbag (water, sunglasses, tickets), a couple of shawls (I get cold easily) and the mail I had just picked up. My friend said, "You're loaded like a Sherpa," and took some of my stuff to carry. I could have made it with two trips or a buggy but I didn't want two trips. I wanted to get HOME after the outing to Stratford. With my friend's help, I was that much sooner on my sofa, collapsed in front of the Jays game. But her word stayed with me: Sherpa.
Of course, I know what a Sherpa is, but I had never used my neighbour's simile. That got me thinking about all the little familiar expressions a person uses, perhaps exclusively to oneself, or common to the family. Some of the words may have been in the family for one or two generations; others come up fortuitously, as required. Actually, I think about them all the time. As a playwright, I look for them and use them. They are called "tags" - not to be over-used but useful shorthand for identifying the speaker and attitudes.
My son Matt picked up an expression, I guess from a fellow worker who called his work place "the hellhole". Matt would say, "Have to go back to the hellhole tomorrow." I suggested he might like to try saying "salt mines" It's old-fashioned; my father used it. It refers, of course, to the salt mines in Siberia, infamous in an earlier time for horrendous working conditions. Today we might use the Third World factories and their workers who produce low-priced clothes for us. Bt how would are say it? Back to the sewing machines?
We all speak in metaphors and similes and time-worn cllches and family expressions. How dull, stale and flat would our communication be without those tools. Actually, it is stale.
Catch you later, alligator. In a while, crocodile. (ugh)