Mixed Up
Off the Wall, August 6,

So there we sat, I among a room full of patients all waiting to see the doctor. Sometimes when I enter, there are many seats and few people. Most the time the place is packed and there are barely enough seats for those whom are ailing.

Believe it or not, I enjoy visiting my neurologist. Sure I have to wait. For me, that’s the fun of it.
I realize it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but after I explain the forthcoming circumstances, one may have a different view and see my side of the story.

If people are willing to open up and share with others their opinions, hardships and many blessings, it can be very edifying. Also, we can all learn a little something from others whereby we can pray for each and everyone.

What I try to do is create parties, so to speak. Before you know it, everyone in the room is smiling, chuckling or laughing out loud. Laughter does cut the tension, you know.

So there were all sat, conversing with each other when one woman decided to open up and tell me some of her problems. All of a sudden, I felt like a shrink sitting next to my patient, as she lay stretched out on that special office-type sofa that psychologists or psychiatrists utilize during office visits for the mentally disturbed or troubled individuals.

I always identify myself when in a group of persons. I think it makes people more family-friendly than if one of us were to call another “sport.” That has always turned me off and is a bit callous, if you ask me.

“What one of my problems is,” the middle-aged brunette stated, “is that I suffer from a lot of anxiety.” Oh,” I said. “You must be consternated at lot.” That brought a rising of her eyebrows and an element of surprise. “Huh… I never have that problem. I go regularly every day.”

Smiling a bit so as to not embarrass her too much, I noted, “I think you are mixed up. Consternate means to be overwhelmed by confusion whereby constipation, the condition of which you are referring in an inactivity of the bowels, is something many people get when they are taking pharmaceuticals.”

Then I thought to myself, “Thank God, she didn’t make reference to consummation. That may have opened up a whole new can of worms. For those who may not know its meaning, it is an act whereby one brings something to completion or perfection. Its second definition is to fulfill, as two people would do to substantiate a marital commitment.

When I was growing up, my mother often reminded me of a lady who often would substitute the wrong words for other words. She stated, “You know, Paul, you remind of Molly Goldberg. You often make the same mistakes she did.” I believe I still do. I first laugh at my errors and then try to correct them. Memory doesn’t always serve me right.

Words are kind of fun, though. I often think of our American language and how hard it must be for foreigners who make an effort to learn the language before first coming into our country.

I remember reading a book whereby a Syrian coming to the U.S. of A. always stumbled over the word ‘Spiced.’ He would ask for spiced tomato juice and always ended up with spiked tomato juice. I praise God I know enough to get my message across and let it go at that. When I had my store people would come to me and point out my column errors. Now, that is where I had to swallow my pride.

A Latrobe resident recently told me I had a pride problem. I don’t fit into that category.

The dictionary defines pride as an undue sense of one’s own superiority compounded by arrogance and conceit. Sorry, but that is not me nor will it ever be so. It’s opposite characterization is overflowing humbleness. Again, I may not, in all due regard, come across as being inhibited to the lowest degree, but I do have a sense of well being which has been given to me through the grace of God.

As I see it, the usage of words will always be misused or misunderstood in the future. What’s important is that if we do use a word of one’s choice, it is our obligation to always know what it means and how it’s going to be interpreted.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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