Word of the Month: “Ponderous”

Like a lot of writers, I tend to gravitate toward a word that I find interesting, and then use it ad nauseum. Lately I have been labeling anything I find to be slow moving or boring “ponderous,” particularly if it is attempting to express an intellectual construct, even unsuccessfully. This paragraph, for example, is ponderous.

I’m also really liking the word “plodding” lately.

Tonight I was reading about my favorite author when I was 16, Richard Bach. As is my habit, I let the internet take me places, and I eventually landed on the YouTube video of the movie Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the movie that was so terrible that Richard Bach himself actually sued the studio in an attempt to prevent its release.

Ponderous, plodding, pensive, pedantic, doggerel and niggardly, this is how I looked when I was about 16.
Ponderous, plodding, pensive, pedantic, doggerel and niggardly, this is how I looked when I was about 16.

But I was blissfully unaware of this intrigue at 16, and as a sensitive teen I became enamored of the Neil Diamond soundtrack to the movie, which was in Dad’s record collection, between The Carpenters and The Ray Conniff Singers. In November of 1979, I listened to the soundtrack over and over and, with the brilliance of magical thinking that resides in all sensitive teens, believed that it made me seem deep and interesting, and that that red-haired girl would fall for me if I just thought about her a little harder.

I know. It sounds idiotic to normals like you, but I’ll bet that someone in my audience did the exact same thing only with irrelevantly different details.

As an adult, and an experienced one at that, I now view such indulgences as fruitless and derivative. But when I was 16, it was all real and it was my entire world.

What does this mean? Does it say that all sensitive teens are idiots? Does it say that the shallowest film and music has the potential to shape the lives of millions of young people? Or was it all just a paranoid adolescent fantasy I conjured to attract the attention of one good-looking but vapid high school girl?

I have to admit that when I hear that music, even in the context of that awful movie (which I still haven’t watched in its entirety), I am viscerally drawn to those days in 1979, with my head on the phone on the floor, making a complete fool of myself, confessing what I thought at the time was love to a girl who, at the time, I thought merited it. It does. It takes me back to that moment.

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5 Comments

  1. I too occasionally remember or relearn words that I then repeat ponderously.

    I have not, however, watched that movie, read that book, or fell in love with that girl. Especially not in 1979. :-)

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  2. It would be a mistake to say that I fell in love with her, since she was such a shallow bitch, and remains one to this day. I fell in obsession.

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  3. Your boyhood would be a great movie. When you write it and you get to the part about us, I prefer to not be a composite character with the above mentioned chick. But either way, I still want an invite to the premier.

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  4. As I read this I am struck with the now perhaps the unconscious craft with which you write. Sentiment and clarity abound like old friends. Thank you for you for your consistent and developed expressions. This work is a prime example of an artist rising.

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