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Cwæþ the Pnårp

Jactitated on August 27, 2023.

For the 500th time, I place pen to paper to go about scrivening, scribbling, and scratching out an account of the hebdomadal happenings-to that make my eructant itinerance on this imperfectly spherical planet such an efflubiously supposititious affair. For the 500th time, I power up my computer, switch on its verdant monitor, and unfold its clickety-clackety board o’ keys—then get busy twickling out this week’s filibusterous blog entry. And for the 500th time, I check if my perfidious oatmeal cookies planted any spy cameras or microphones in the walls in my computering room. It’s been known to happen. One can never be too sure around these fiendish oatmeal cookies or their raisin spies.

A single paragraph in, I stopped to ponder the fact that an actress may be “in” a movie but “on” a TV show. “Well, that’s a grammatical curiosity,” I mused to myself. “But—no time for grammatical curiosities now! I have some bloggin’ to do!”

Keys went clickety-clack and my pen flew across my monitor. Its glowing green phosphors began to blink to life, prodded into displaying letters, words, and whole sentences. Nurdlebutt was curled up in the corner of the room, her head filled with dreams of clawing me to death for buying her only economy-grade catfood this time. (The Spend-O-Mart is having a dead horse shortage again.) Becasue was trying on all her new caprine raiments. Two weeks of unending goats and How to Skin a Goat for Dummies had supplied me with enough hide and know-how (for dummies) to fashion an entire wardrobe for my puffy huzzey-muffet, from goat-leather hats to goat-pelt shoes, goatskin dresses and lingerie, and everything in between. And we had enough goat kebabs, goat vindaloo, and goat curry to last 157 years, give or take a day or two.

Off in the distance, my ceiling clock tick-tick-tocked. I and my ol’ board o’ keys click-click-clacked. And then, suddenly I had a linguistic revelation—a lexicographical epiphanation. It hit me like a ton of unabridged dictionaries. I was ecstatic.

“Great Custer’s ghost!” I cwæþ grandly. “Becasue, did you know!? ‘Quoth’ and ‘quote’ are entirely unrelated words!” Becasue looked at me forlornly as quotation marks fluttered through the air. My big little redheaded huzzey-muffet was always cleaning up after me. Today would be no different…

I had become not unlike a pensive bump on a log: Lost in thought, navigating the dull and wrinkly recesses of my brain, contemplating the deeply profound difference between “it’s” and “’tis” and what happens to one’s authorial credibility if one chooses the “wrong” contraction at the “wrong” moment. More high sixes and nines swirled through the air like typographical confetti.

I continued: “Can one be ‘at’ a movie or a TV show? One can go ‘to’ a movie—but can one go ‘to’ a TV show, without sounding like an uneducated philistine?”

Becasue used her new kid gloves to brush all my errant punctuation off her new kid sandals. My cornfed girl–chipmunk did look rather stunning in those goaty new flip-flops. She had lost her favorite pair of fluorescent orange ones in a toenail-polishing accident in June; cobbling these together from the last bits of goatskin was the least I could do for her. I had also lost the last pair of my original teeth in that accident, but that could be blamed on the gnomes. Everything could be blamed on the gnomes, in fact. They wait inside my wainscoting. They abide beneath my baseboards. They conceal themselves above each cornice… squirrel themselves into every spandrel… and ferret themselves behind every frieze! They…! They…!!

They steal my socks and turn them inside-out! They steal Becasue’s shoes and turn them inside-out! (That’s why she only wears sandals now. And it’s also why my muzzey-huffet wound up back home for eight weeks with a prescription for rest, relaxation, and antipsychotics that doubled as gnome repellent.) The gnomes—they turn everything inside-out! Even things already inside-out! They turn those inside-out doubly so!

Calming myself before someone else did it for me, I pondered more deeply those prepositional suppositions surrounding our cinematographical entertainment industry. I went all wall-eyed as the lexematical inconsistencies and prepositional subtleties of our stalwart old English tongue overwhelmed the language centers of my highly-polished, smooth brain. I started bubbling. I tried as hard as a Pnårp can to not succumb to bubbling and squeaking as the monkeys inside my meninges churned through all these disjoint prepositions, preposed conjunctions, and locative–vocative exjunctive olfactorations. But it was no use. Within minutes I sounded like someone was trying to throttle a tea kettle. At least Becasue was occupied with trying on her Moroccan leather accouterments so she didn’t try to throttle me.

And at least I could smell all these lexemes and graphemes. And they smelled good. Like cookies. (But not oatmeal cookies!)

Wernicke and Broca had departed from their eponymous areas once again, off on long vacations—their own quests for rest, relaxation, and to be free of me for a week (or eight). I burbled something—but it was less than useful and hardly intelligible. My strangled bubbling diminished to a muffled burbling—and was soon reduced to a plaintive blorpling. Then—

“You can ‘try on’ clothes! But you can also ‘try out’ clothes? What’s the deal with—!?”

“Now, just don’t you forget: ‘Goaltender’ is only one mistake away from ‘goatlender,’ she admonished me. More quotation marks flew. I brushed them aside with a clownish flourish, but I had to admit: She could give as good as she got.

“Oh, I know,” I murmured. “Oh, how I know…”

“He who lets the goat be laid on his shoulders is soon after forced to carry the cow.” Was this an aphorism, an apophthegm, a mere adage, or even—horror of horrors—a truism? After much rumination, in a more bovine manner than usual, I concluded that it was a trite and kitschy proverb of the most superficial and oblovovious kind. I snorted, contemning with the utmost smarm, and swallowed my cud. I turned the page and looked for better quotes about goats.

Then a goat fell on my head.

Thirty years ago, a similar mishap had serendipitously led me down the career path of goatlending. A whole flock of rurtling goats had descended upon me, and—never being the type to let the Universe give me lemons without pissing in Its lemonade—I hit upon the idea of lending the goats out at interest. Who wouldn’t want to borrow a goat? They’re so useful—as lawnmowers, trash compactors, and more. Alas, Ollanthorpe Savings Bank wouldn’t even deign to return my calls, but after much perusing of the yellow pages and want ads, and making increasingly wild cold-calls to any businessrube who would pick up the phone, my proposal finally got one bite. I assembled all my goats into one large flock, donned my nattiest fez and bolo tie, and ambled down to the local ice rink where we would meet, goats in tow.

But, as Becasue reminded me, “goatlending” and “goaltending” are only a letter apart; this fact had escaped me that day. And thus ended my brief career with the NHL.

Those six Frenchmen were still mad at me for reneging on the goats-for-oats deal I struck with them last week. Their nattering nuisancery was getting on my nerves—but they wouldn’t get my goat. Or my goats. I swallowed another kebab whole—skewer and all—and returned to watching my leather-clad Becasue try on out her new wardrobe. Those goats were all mine (and Becasue’s). And those Frenchies could whine and bleat and kerplunk and stamp their hooves all they wanted to, but Becasue would get another hundred pair of goatskin flip-flops before those garrulous Gallic goons got even a single scrap of goat hide. They might even declare war on me, but Becasue would get her sandals. And her kid gloves. And her goatskin boots. And… Or my name wasn’t Phillip Norbert Årp.

As a compromise, I recalled my toadskin kazoo. Could I make enough of these to placate these piqued Frenchmen? I pondered—but carefully avoided becoming a pensive bump on a log this time. Being fully toadless at the moment, I would first need to make a clandestine visit to the toad farm on Goading Road (that’s right next to the goatburping park on Shoehorner Street), in the dead of night, to purloin no less than a dozen toads. Then to skin them, and tan the skin, and…

As this 500th blargh poast draws to an elegant close, I must return to tending my herd of rental goats. “Baa-aa-aa-aaa!!” But then my big blonde huzzey-muffet asked me the question no Pnårp wants to answer: “Does this dress make my butt look big?”

“Well, tell me what a *kweþaną has to do with a quotāre,’ I sæġde, “and then you’ll have your answer!”

And this is how I ended up in the doghouse again—with a goatskin bootprint on my own buttocks.