Writers work with words. That’s expected of us.
However, at times, I forget a word. Usually that word is a noun. Oh, most of us have done that, but the older you get, the harder it is to come up with the right word. Talking to my sister-in-law often turns into a fill-in-the-blanks quiz. Thingy is probably the most important word in Diane’s vocabulary. She couldn’t complete a sentence without it.
My husband and I like a little variety. We also use dealy and what’s-it as well as doodad, doohickey and gizmo. This means we use sentences like, “Would you give me the dealy?” or “I’m going to put the thingy in the whatchamacallit.”
One tip I don’t include: point It’s not a suggestion because this gesture can be misconstrued so badly. When I point, George always hands me the wrong thing. I’m still trying to decide if he does this on purpose or because he truly can’t see which thingamabob I want. I’m pretty sure it’s to bother me. After all, we’ve been married a really long time.
Okay, so here are some tips.
1) If you can’t think of the word, describe. For example, “Hand me that big blue thing with the spots.”
2) Trail off, as if you meant to be mysterious. “I need the. . . ” Add a wave or a wink for authenticity.
3) Use in context. For example, if I’m sitting in front of the television holding two remotes and say, “Would you put the dealy in?” my husband usually understands I’m ready to watch a DVD
4) Gestures can say a lot. Although he pretends not to—yes, we’ve been married a long time–my husband knows I mean “fast forward” when I position my hand as if I’m holding the remote and pretend I’m clicking with my thumb.
4) Wait and hope someone else fills in the word for you. The problem with this is that the other person may fill in the blank with the wrong noun. Here’s an example from a conversation between George and me.
George: I need . . . [He waves toward the table.]
Me: [Looking around] A napkin?
George: No, no. I need the black thing.
Me: The phone?
George: No, the water . . .
Me: A glass of water? A black glass of water? [I have no idea what this means]
George: No, furry.
George: No, the cat. The cat’s on the table.
This, of course, takes a lot longer than if George had just gone to the table and sprayed the black cat using the water-sprayer thingus.
My greatest fear is that I will lose every one of my nouns. Right now, I’m fairly confident with cat, husband, computer and keyboard and most people understand “Place where I sleep” and “Cold thing in the kitchen.”
Actually, what I fear most is losing my verbs. Then I could no longer form a . . . a . . . you know, that thing with a noun and a verb and maybe another noun and those describing words.