My parents play Scrabble.
I know. Really, do I have to tell you much more about my childhood?
The other night they were playing it with friends and my father played the word "vox". Immediately great potests ensued. No proper nouns and such allowed.
But guess what? He was right; vox is indeed a word. Latin for voice, and included in the official scrabble dictionary.
Yes, they own a scrabble dictionary.
And the entire OED.
As in, a hard copies, on their living room shelf. Or somewhere.
They literally have books and words in every room of their house. When I was a child my mother would bring home crates of books discarded from the library and the schools.
Every once in a while, when I thought I had read every book we had a dozen times already, I would take them all off again, organize them by height, width, subject matter, and restock the shelves. We had bookshelves down the halls, in the living room and blocking off one entrance to the kitchen. Books on the couch, by our beds, on the countertops and under one arm.
And newspaper clippings and random quotes scrawled on lined and white and every color of paper. Words on the walls and taped to the fridge and the mirrors in the bathrooms. Really important ones on the wall right in front of the toilet. Filing cabinets full of them.
I noticed that now she has dry erase boards, too.
Do you think that our voices are truly our own? That any part of them exists as something other than a subconscious mash-up of every other voice we've ever experienced?
I feel like me. I think this is my voice.
But every time I read Jane Eyre or War and Peace or Dante, I am startled to find constructions I thought were my own. Perhaps this vox is more accurately a mentalcuisinart, than a maytag.
Not that that's a bad thing. Can you imagine what I'd be writing right now if my parents had primarily stocked the shelves with the ilk of, say, Gary Larson?
Yeesh. Although…I might be funnier.
Is that a word? Under what stack of books did I leave that dictionary…