(In our last episode we left Merriam returning from the bathroom with extraordinarily sweet smelling hands, while Webster was sitting at the table with a mouthful of spoon bread and a maddingly obsessive tickle in his throat.)

…Webster tried to grin. At this very second the tickle brought out the big guns.

It called on the mouth to send reinforcements in the form of saliva. The mouth was more than happy to assist, ordering the saliva to migrate slowly over the tickle like a glacier. Webster, feeling the trickle sliding over the tickle, was defeated by the onslaught and coughed with a mighty roar just as Merriam settled himself into the booth.

The spray from the cough hit Merriam like a shower without one of those flow restrictors on it that you find in old motels. It slammed his head back against the booth with such force that the woman on the other side thought it was an earthquake and ran screaming from into the street where she spotted another Starbucks and went inside to order a replacement latte.

Luckily no one was injured. Courteous Starbucks employees ran over with fresh white towels and wiped Merriam down. He sat wide-eyed, apparently in shock, as they buffed him up like he was at a car wash.

Webster took a long drink of scalding coffee, which laid the tickle to rest – until next time. “As I was saying, we will have the dictionary set up so that words like “winterize” will not have to be defined other than saying something like, ‘making ready for winter.’ If that’s not enough to satisfy them, they can go to the dictionary again and look up winter which we could define as “the season between autumn and spring comprising in the northern hemisphere usually the months of December, January, and February or as reckoned astronomically extending from the December solstice to the March equinox.”

Merriam came out of his trance, buffed up spiffy as a chrome bumper, and said, “Hot damn, word man, you’re brilliant!” He’d forgotten all about the saliva and pumpkin bread shower he’d just been subjected to. “Why, they won’t know what equinox means, and they’ll have to look that up, too.”

“Yes! Yes!” exclaimed Webster, “Now you understand! They’ll have their noses in our dictionary all day long. It will be like a wonderful scavenger hunt, with words as the only clues!”

“We must get on this right away, before someone steals our idea.” Merriam said. “There’s just one thing that I’m confused about.”

“What is it, man, speak up!” said Webster, anxious to get started.

“What does ‘wintercation’ mean?”

“Oh, I’m very excited about that word. Very excited. It’s one I heard in a commercial just yesterday. It combines two words – winter and vacation – into one. Don’t you see the possibilities? We can have these words listed individually, and then we can combine them and people will have to look up both root words!”

“Yes, yes, I see,” said Merriam. “We could combine any number of words and create new words. Let me see if I can come up with one….Here’s one: ‘frenemy.’”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a word I saw on a website – it means a friend who is, at the same time, an enemy,” Merriam said. “They also used the word ‘complisult’ which is giving an compliment which is also an insult.”

“Use it in a sentence,” Webster said.

“You have a nice face except for all the wrinkles,” Merriam said.

“Who-a,” Webster said. “Do you think it’s okay to just take any two words and smash them together like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”

“Why not?” Merriam said gleefully. His happy disposition accounted for the ‘Merri’ part of his name.

“By George, you’re right! Why not? Especially since they’ll be paying us by the word!”

So blog readers, you now have the true** story of how to pad out a blog when you’ve run out of ideas. You’ll notice that I turned the word “spunky” into a two-day blog, and for that I give myself credit.

For those of you curious as to the definition of spunky, I will again consult Merriam and Webster, who are hunched over a drawing table playing a game of tic-tac-toe. They say that spunk is “a woody tinder…any of various fungi used to make tinder.” They also said I could look up the words: mettle, pluck, spirit, and liveliness, but I’m okay with that first definition.

As to the original topic of this blog, I noticed that I am more like my mother than I previously thought, and the flaw that I have imitated (unbeknownst to me) was the flaw of being too lenient and trusting. One of my adolescents got into some mischief, and even though adolescents will be adolescents, as they say, it might not have happened if I’d been more suspicious and ruled with an iron fist.

So it is with a mouthful of pumpkin bread (it’s really is good) that I apologize to those people whom I said were lazy. Even us woody tinders fall into the bad habits of our parents, which is not to say we will give up the struggle. We just have to ground ourselves, much like the way I’ve grounded my child for the aforementioned shenanigans, and hope we all learn something from it. **And FYI, none of this is true except, or including, the grounding.