27 Sept. 2007
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The Uni-l-ular Conundra

As I wrote the title for this blogitem, I realized that the "l" problem was more complex than I had first thought.  Initially I simply planned to write about my first uni-l-ular Michele, and how wonderful it is to be able to laugh at oneself.  But when I typed the title "The Uni-l-ular Condunrum," it looked horribly awkward to me.  It's easy to pronounceU-ni-ell-u-larbut if you spell it that way, it's not clear what it's about.  If you spell it "unilular" and follow the pronunciation rules of English it sounds awkward, which is just as bad, considering that I also provide "podcasts" of the blog.  So, in the spelling of the word, I found that I had a second conundrum, in addition to the initial one about which I intend to write, which is the issue of the uni-l-ular Michele itself.  That is until I realized that I had a third conundrum, i.e., what is the plural of conundrum?  You could make an argument for "conundrums" since the origin of the word is, according to my online dictionary, the use of which does not count as research:

"[15901600; pseudo-L word of obscure orig]."

Unaccountably, the dictionary doesn't provide an accepted or preferred plural, and one could also make the argument for "conundra" since, pseudo-L or real, that sounds much better.  I have settled the point as you can see above, and I shall be informing Mr. Dictionary as soon as I get around to it.  I have, with somewhat less conviction, also acquiesced to the highly-hyphenated moniker for an "l" deficiency.  (As I was proofreading, I realized that the "conundra" problem could be solved in this case by calling it a "trinundrum."  I'll take votes on this and, against my normal practice, change the title if there's a groundswell.)

Nowhere in this blogitem will you find either references to or problems that include big numbers, (except in this sentence, which doesn't count).  Neither shall there be so much as one attempt to save the world.

My First Uni-l-ular Michele, and How Wonderful it is to be Able to Laugh at Oneself

In life previous to New Jersey, the only Michelles I had ever encountered were of the female persuasion and spelled their name with two l's.  I had read about Micheles with the other spelling, but they were male and lived in places like Italy; they seemed to be either bankers, fugitives, or both.  Imagine my surprise, then, when after moving to New Jersey, I found myself interviewing several manifestly female Micheles for an administrative position.  An l deficiency didn't put one in a "protected class" under federal labor laws, which were much less stringent at the time.  Therefore I had the option of rejecting them on those grounds alone, although, ecumenical dude that I am, I gave them equal consideration and actually ended up hiring one.  She was a coll.grad., very clever, and did an outstanding job during the period she remained with us, so I wouldn't hesitate to consider a uni-l-ular Michele in the future.

Although I could tell many stories about this particular Michele, most would recount adventures that she told me about her after-hours activities, which stories would demonstrate that it's wonderful to laugh at others.  I propose, however, to tell only one story, and its joke was ever-so on me.

I had a message for Michele.  We were shipping something or other to a customer in Bangor, Maine.  Perhaps the music was loud, perhaps she had a moment of inattention, but somehow I conveyed the stateMaineto her, without managing to get the city across.  For whatever reason, I decided not to communicate Bangor by ICAO phonetic alphabet (Bravo, Alpha, November, etc.,) or by Morse Code, or by giving her a note or by showing her the customer communication, or even saying it more distinctly.  No, in this case, it was to be by charade.  I started hitting my head with my fist, implying "Bangor" to anyone but Michele, who clearly had been plotting against me for several weeks.

Michele, watching me hit my head with my fist, immediately said "Rockport."

To my credit, I didn't actually collapse on the floor with laughter.  (ROTFLMAO was years later and, I suspect, not literal.)  But it did take me a minute or so to recover.  I ascribe this in part to her forbearance.  She could have waited before saying "Rockport," thus giving me additional time to soften my various cranial lobes with repeated impact.  So, thank you, Michele, for at least that consideration.

I have always been able to laugh at myself.  This is good because:

  • By doing so, I am unlikely to insult anyone who will take revenge either immediately or later.

  • Humans, in general, are funnier than animals (although not funnier than animal names, viz. "weasel").  I am the only human who is reliably and ineluctably around when I need a good laugh.

  • I remember plenty of other incidents that have provided the same benefit.  Recall the "Richard, you have more depth than any other one-dimensional person I have ever met" comment?  Another favorite.

  • I have had plenty of embarrassing incidents.  With hindsight, I can laugh at most of them.  I rarely laugh at other people's embarrassing incidents, mostly because I have forgotten them, which is one reason I can laugh at mine:  The witnesses of those have forgotten.  (Not you?  OK, laugh if you must, but don't remind me.)

Medical authority asserts that laughter is a good thing.  I can summon it with just one word.  Rockport.

Other Michelles and Micheles

I am not aware of any theoretical reason for that New Jersey conceit, the de-l-ification of the common Michelle.  And, in fact, it isn't state-exclusive.  We did have a bi-l-ular Michelle from NJ working for us for over a decade.  Perhaps it's just one of those "Weird New Jersey" mysteries like the Devil's Tower or the "What exit?" jokes.  And, just as with carbon dioxide, "mixing" occurs as Micheles move to other states and countries.  Whenever I encounter a Miche*e, I inquire as to her state of birth and the cardinality of her l's.  The statistics are persuasive but not conclusive.

NP:  "She Comes Around" - Goldrush

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