Barbara Dvorozniak can’t believe I keep making such unkind annual cracks about cats. And Dave Roeder questions whether there’s any such word as “faunch.”
These are two of several Pilot readers who responded to the collection of brief items in my Jan. 3 column, “Things I’m Hoping to See in This Brand-New Year.”
Since there doesn’t seem much else to comment on in these winter doldrums, please humor me as I attempt to turn those remarks into yet another follow-up column — or “colyum,” as I prefer to spell it, since that’s how so many newspaper old-timers used to pronounce it.
“Well, you have done it again — wanting fewer cats and more dogs,” wrote faithful reader Barbara. “Do you know there are already 81 varieties of dogs? (I think. I was watching a dog show not long ago.) Well, I like dogs all right, but not compared to cats. … My halfbreed Merlin is my buddy, and it’s just the two of us now that [husband] George is gone.”
Barbara asked if we still have our Maine coon cat, Lucy. We do, indeed, and she’s now a bony 15-year-old. There’s also a somewhat younger Siamese named Lily. She wouldn’t have much to do with me until a couple of years ago, when she abruptly announced that she wanted to start sitting on my lap (the right thigh, actually) when I’m watching TV. And she’s been doing it off and on ever since.
“Please be more charitable to kitty-cats in the new year,” Barbara concluded.
Oh, all right. I promise.
(In response to all this, my wife, Brenda, snuck a picture of me with Lily on my lap and put it on Facebook. Among the several comments was one from Al Carter, who judged from my facial expression that I looked “kind of cat-atonic.”)
Which brings me back to Dave Roeder, who goes under the email name “thudrat.”
“Steve, I thoroughly enjoyed your piece in today’s Pilot,” he wrote. “However: ‘feuding and faunching’? Come on! On the one hand, I can’t even find that word in my ever-handy Concise Oxford English Dictionary — the closest thing being ‘fauches,’ the plural of the word for ‘the arched opening at the back of the mouth leading to the pharynx.’ On the other hand, I always enjoy learning something new, so I’ll keep on looking! Happy New Year to you and yours.”
For the benefit of those who may not have read the first column, the paragraph in question said I wished the residents and officials of Pinehurst would spend more time “showing an appreciation of how lucky they are to live in such a uniquely wonderful place — instead of causing so much trouble in paradise by feuding and faunching endlessly over some local issue or other.”
I knew I was being pretty obscure and idiomatic with that f-word, which was based on an expression I heard my grandfather use long ago. And thudrat is right: The Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t recognize any such word. Nor does our newsroom standard, Webster’s New World.
But a web search quickly revealed that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary does include such a reference. Though describing the term as “dialectal,” it defines the intransitive verb “to faunch” as: “To display angry excitement … to rant and rave.” It offers this usage example: “It was enough to make anybody faunch.”
In a P.S., on a more sober note, Dave responded to another paragraph in that original column, the one expressing hope that this community might “somehow find a concrete way to preserve and enshrine the memory of my late and greatly missed friend Chris Larsen,” whose Dec. 14 death left so many of us in shock and grief.
“Maybe Southern Pines will name a street, a park or even a school after our friend and my Thrift Shop partner, Chris,” Dave wrote.
Works for me.
Lastly, there was the unidentified lady who approached me as I was hanging out at The Country Bookshop, checking out the newest titles.
“How are you doing so far on that resolution to read at least a book a month?” she asked.
I was proud to report to her that, as it happened, I had already finished not one but two books so far in January, though I had started one of them in late December. It was clear that she was less than impressed, since she boasted of reading a book a week.
I didn’t tell her that our sports editor, Hunter Chase, reads closer to one a day. But that’s a subject for another colyum.