“Prawny” is a word, isn’t it? … It should be, don’t you think? Prawny. Praaaawwwny. And yet, Bill Gates in absentia is underlining that word as I type it with a squiggly red line. Piss off, Mr. Gates! I like it and I am an English teacher, so I declare that henceforth “prawny” shall forever more be enshrined in the Dictionary of George!!! On sale now in any dusty bookstore somewhere in the back of your mind. Don’t miss it—it’s a veritable whirlwind of lexical fun and games!
“What in God’s name is he babbling about now?” I hear you muttering under your breath. … Speaking of which, how can anyone do anything under their own breath? That really does not make sense, does it? Okay, declaration number two on this 19th day of the 2nd month of the 46th year of my life—in the Dictionary of George, no one shall be allowed to evoke any language that involves anything happening under one’s breath. Nor above it, around it, before it, behind it, or beyond it. “Breath” shall be neither derided nor anthropomorphized in any way. Breath simply is. So live with it! (Try living without it and see how far you get.)
But getting back to your “what is he babbling about now” comment (that was rather rude of you to mutter, by the way, but you’re forgiven). I was just sitting here in the midst of a highly professional and incredibly productive … word game. I selected P R A W N Y, and the bloody iPad app would not accept it as a real word. And so I put it to you, whoever you may be—imagine, you are at a restaurant—not the finest of restaurants mind you, but that type that readily recycle pans and oil and God only knows what! Probably bits of salad and those poor untouched veggies that are so oft neglected. That wilting sprig of parsley at the very least.
And while all this unspeakable horror is happening in the kitchen, you sit at your table in light dimmed just enough to ensure that you cannot spot the evidence on your plate of what was really happening behind the swinging doors. When your orange roughy arrives at the table, your eyes widen a bit as you imagine just how yummy this will taste—a thought that inexplicably crosses your mind despite the obvious fact that you have chosen to order orange roughy at a so-so restaurant in a so-so quarter of town. Which town, you ask? Ooohhh, let’s say … Frankfurt. How you managed to order the orange roughy in a restaurant in Frankfurt when you don’t even know how to say “orange roughy” in German is beyond me, but well done to you! Now stop interrupting me with silly questions!
Anyway, you take a bit on your fork, that nice, gently steaming orange roughy with a buttery sauce, bit of dill sprinkled in for good measure, and pop it in your mouth while your dinner companion is sitting there wondering why you are taking so long to take your first bite. Little does he know that your actions are timed to coincide with my narration of this story, and that therefore you have no choice but to bow before the dictates of me, the Grand Timekeeper and woefully uncelebrated Author of the Dictionary of George. Still collecting dust on that lower bookshelf two aisles down towards the back of that bookshop in your mind. You know, you really need to get someone in there to spruce the place up a bit. Hoover it at least, maybe hang a plant or two in that corner—the one below the window. That window you never seem to get around to opening. Yes, airing the place out a bit might be a good idea as well.
So you do finally manage to take that first bite of orange roughy, rolling it about on your tongue a bit, hoping for a sweet, sensual experience, one you shall remember at least until the end of this evening, and—depending on the quality of the sexual encounter you anticipate afterwards—possibly for the next day or two to come. Delicious details of which you could eagerly share with your friends—about the orange roughy, I mean, not the sex. Although God willing that too will be worth reporting on. You know, to certain friends. Not all of them. Certainly not Penelope, who can’t seem to keep her mouth shut no matter how many times you have begged her, “Please don’t tell anyone about this. Pleeaaassseee.” And in the end, you know it is not Penelope you should be criticizing, but yourself for continuing to share intimate details with a friend whose notion of privacy encompasses half of California. Easily.
So there it is at long last—that flaky, tender bit of fish, caressing your taste buds. Although … not quite. No, caressing is not the word. Hmm, “roughly handling” might be more to the point. A rather rough roughy assaulting your senses despite the fact that you never said a harsh word to that bloody fish before it ended up on your plate. But don’t blame the poor fish (who’s no more at fault than is poor Penelope). Nor can you say anything to your dinner companion, who was so eager to please you with this choice of a so-so restaurant in Frankfurt (cut him some slack—he’s a poor university student!). So you decide to keep this experience to yourself rather than hurt his feelings and impede the prospect of sexual congress about two hours and sixteen minutes later. (Don’t forget to floss. And use a bit of mouthwash. This is a seafood restaurant, after all.)
Unfortunately, your companion won’t allow you to maintain your silence on this point. No hiding behind constitutional rights for you, I’m afraid. Besides, you’re in Frankfurt—the U.S. Constitution ain’t gonna help none here, little missy! Not when your anonymous companion puts down his own fork, looks you square in the eye, a look of immense hope and imminent desire, and asks you, “So? How is it?” You swallow (took you long enough, but that was my fault), strive to maintain eye contact and a steady voice full of promise as you compose just the right lie. And yet, when you open your mouth to speak, what statement should emerge (not under your breath, but with it!), but this: “Tastes a bit prawny.”
Take that, Mr. Bill Bloody Gates!!!