by Margaret McCann
Let's face it, bloating is underrated.
While people like to think that the words that
rhyme with bloating are more important than bloating itself, in fact bloating functions as
an infrastructure for these words, allowing them to intermingle playfully on the surface of
the pond of ordinary prattle instead of sinking into its unplumbable depths. Like a coroner
inspecting a set of teeth tooth by tooth, we will plod adroitly through our task — dodging
cavities, extracting "spinach," rewarded maybe with a loose gold filling — in order to
identify bloating's incisive role in our speech.
FLOATING is made possible by the bloated
state of the fatty part of the floatee. BOATING,
an aspect of floating, involves mutual bloatation between the sated swells of water and the
rounded bottom of the boat, who conspire to joyfully bounce the boater about. MOATING
makes inevitable a bloated onslaught of churning, seemingly chuckling, waves into a moat,
filling it to complete its meaning the same way a stuffed stocking spells Xmas.
What was once a passing comment gains
weight the moment it is NOTED, becoming
curiously bloated. QUOTING proceeds a step further, placing around what has been noted
small, bloated marks, whose plump, well-meaning curvatures are a delight for the human
eye to behold.
DOTING and COATING are almost interchangable
words. Both function to protect, yet
while doting encourages the dotee's self-satisfaction to a dangerously bloated degree,
coating attempts to de-bloat the coatee, who or what may be chubby and can't fit into a coat,
or, like a wall, must be squeezed into two coats of paint.
VOTING automatically bloats the significance
of one candidate over another in a booth
that can only be described as bloated after a night of heavy voting. TOTING requires an
object bloated enough to be properly toted, otherwise the person would carry a folder. And
GOATING, a vocation rapidly belonging to yesteryear, is undertaken with the expectation
that the trotting about of the bloated-bellied goats will bring the goater seasons of pleasure
and profit in greener pastures than those harvested from his goatless past.
It can now be concluded absolutely
that bloating is a Cinderella of a word that does all the
work while the evil stepsisters, so to speak, get all the credit for it. The occasional or
offhand "Look, that dead fish is bloated," or "I feel a little bloated today," are simply not
enough. Perhaps this exposé will relocate bloating to its proper place in the common usage
dictionary, and celebrate its decades of steady and mysterious service at the bottom of the
vocabulary reservoir where, every now and then, swellling with enough pride to bubble to
the surface, it releases helpful amounts of oxygen into the atmosphere, marshalling cheer
and courage into the frothy currents of the river of life like some of the most fearless of
Western civilization's earliest explorers.
Story copyright 1994 by Margaret McCann
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