If words were people

This post is now a bit dated. I wrote this in April, when we first went into lockdown in the U.K.

If words were people . . . and went to a party. 

And entered the room. 

She was met by the familiar buzz. Drink and Cocktail were clearly having a terrific time. As was Laughter. She was often paired with Nervous by the word over in the corner, an attempt to overcome her loneliness. Well, she should know. Isolation was always on her own. But hold on a moment. And moved closer. A large group had gathered round Isolation. She seemed like a different word altogether. 

         ‘I know, it’s all so new to me.’ She giggled. ‘They’re using me all the time. All the time!’

         ‘Not as much as me!’ Self-isolation gave her a wicked grin.

         Normal sighed. ‘Oh come on, you’re just suckers for all the attention. It’ll soon get old.’

         Isolation burst into tears and ran out of the room. It was all too much. 

         ‘Oh, you’re just jealous,’ said Abnormal, though he had been hoping for more action himself. Instead they’d gone for Strange. He turned to And. ‘I mean, come on . . . strange? Strange!? What’s strange about all this? Concerning . . . fear-inducing . . .  worrying maybe, but strange?’ His speech was starting to slur. ‘What kind of a reaction is that? Come on! Isn’t this all very abnormal? Why aren’t they using me? It’s so unfair!’ 

He turned and headed for the bar. 

         And looked across at Strange. He seemed rather subdued, given all the recent attention. He sipped his beer, the one with the lemon poking from the neck of the bottle. And knew he still craved the attention. Oh, they had loved him at first. He was all the rage, but now . . . oh my word, the talk now was just about one word. There she was, lounging among the real favourites. 

         And couldn’t take her eyes off them all. 

There they all were. All except for These and Times who’d paired up and were doing a press conference down the hall. Of course the Big C was just loving it. He was bragging to a whole crowd, including Cough, Persistent and Throat. ‘That word with the number on the end,’ drawled the Big C, ‘what an interloper! Naah, he was never going to knock me off the top spot. I’m still working my way into every news bulletin. Oh, the geeks love the word with the number on the end, but most people, yup, still going for the Big C!’ He leaned back, took a sip from his Margherita and winked at C-19.

         The favourites were all doing their thing – Briefing, Ventilator, Government, Doctors, Nurses, Thoughts, Prayers, Long and Haul, but when it came to celebrity, there was one who filled up her meaning like no other. Her rise to fame had been . . . well, you can imagine.  

         Unprecedented looked like the cat that got the cream. Surrounded by all the really cool words, like caboose, kowtow and krankenschwester (very popular in Germany), she was lapping up the attention. Or at least she was putting on a good show, thought And. Normally hauled out occasionally by journalists with a tendency to use hyperbole, she wasn’t used to all the fuss. 

And studied her a little more closely. 

Worry lines were starting to form on her forehead. 

And was concerned that it might be too much for her. And knew all about short-term fame. Overused and mostly ignored nowadays, And wondered what it must be like for Unprecedented. Especially given the double weight she carried. Not only was she being used all the time, but well, no one had used a word this much before. Which was . . .  unprecedented. It was a lot of pressure. 

All the words kept using her to describe her predicament. She looked like she was burning out. Couldn’t Unusual come to help? Or maybe Strange could pitch in again. What about Unparalleled or even Unique? Surely someone could help her out. The celebrity status was taking its toll. Overused words ended up as cliché, then slang, a halfway house before being discarded. Like Chill, Pill, Dude, Totally, and Boogie. 

And turned round. A tall, thin word with greasy hair had walked in, his suit ill-fitting. 

The babble of voices started to die down.  

Just the ticket, thought And. He would solve all U’s problems. 

The word wandered over to the bar, all eyes following him, the room now hushed. Words moved back as he approached. All except for one word, who seemed to know the new arrival well. He joined him at the bar. They smiled at each other. 

‘Screwdriver?’ said Economy, turning to his friend. 

‘Don’t mind if I do,’ replied Recession. 

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