I wish the meese would eschew my car

This is the lede. That was the first sentence. How did you like it?

A strong, compelling, colorful, tantalizing LEDE is vitally important to a successful column. As soon as I think of one, I’ll paste it in up there at the top. You’ll never catch me.

LEDE is a journalism-speak/spell noun. It is pronounced exactly like the verb “lead,” as in, “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.” (‘Edgy’ Reggie Carpenter, 1966)

Lede is also a neologism, which is a very cool word all by itself. Neologism means … uh … big red book … page 778 …

neologism (n) 1: a new word, usage, or expression, 2: a meaningless word coined by a psychotic.

OK, let’s just move on.

We, all of us, speak under mysterious language constraints. American English has a multitude of perfectly wrought words that we might write, but rarely—if ever—utter aloud.

Yeah, like wrought.

HEED. Everyone knows what it means, but nobody ever actually tells anybody to heed anything. We take the longer route: “Listen carefully and be sure to do what I say or …”

Kneecaps are sometimes mentioned.

How about DOFF? What’s wrong with DOFF?

The reason people don’t say DOFF is because they don’t want to be ridiculed. The only way to get away with DOFF is to slide it in with a bunch of other words and let it hide amongst ’em so it won’t be noticed: “Nice trailer. Your plants look strong and healthy. Somebody stole Greg’s bicycle. Mind if I doff my pants? How long have you lived in Sun Valley?”

ESCHEW. Now there’s a word. It’s shorter and classier than “steer clear of” and a lot sexier than “reject.” Still, people won’t use it. Nancy Reagan would have ordered us to …


… if she really wanted to win the War on Drugs.

I like words that somehow look and sound like what they mean. Take ZITHER. I’m not real certain about knowing what one looks like, but I’m damn sure that’s the right word for it.

And LEERY. Looks and sounds just right.

So does CRAG. And BLUSTER.

Also, MOOSE. What could look and sound more like a moose than MOOSE? The only thing wrong with MOOSE is that it’s its own plural. When one is referring to more than one moose, as one often does, it should be MEESE, or MOOSES. That’s only fair. (MICE is already taken, you little fool.)

According to Uncle John’s Third Bathroom Reader, a book I borrowed from Greg Tidwell and intend to “lose” because I want to keep it, and besides, he never reads this column anyway, “Moose are very nearsighted. Some try to mate with cars.”

Oh yeah? How do they know moose are very nearsighted? Do people lurk in the Canadian woods wielding big “E” eye charts? “OK, moose, try to read the fourth line …” Is there some kind of focusing mechanism that fits over antlers? “Next … back … next … No. 2 … no, back … No 1. That’s it!”

One cannot stop skepticism from creeping under the flap of one’s Tent of Believability. Now, about the second part of Uncle John’s claim. Admit it. You knew we were going back there, didn’t you?

“Some (moose) try to mate with cars.”

This is, indeed, tricky turf. Intrepid reporter Scoop Newsworthy, my imaginary friend, e-mails from Manitoba:

“Moose are more likely to try to mate with the front end of a car rather than the rear. This is because (a) the hoods are usually warmer, and (b) moose ain’t perverts, y’know.”

I eschew responding, since I am busy working on that lede …