Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Who's the leader of the club ... ?"

A couple of word-of-the-day words lately have reminded me of The Mickey Mouse Club (1955-1959), a half-hour show I watched every afternoon in my boyhood in Enid, Oklahoma (I was 10 when it debuted).  I especially loved the serial "Spin and Marty" about a dude ranch for kids; Spin (played by Tim Considine) was the experienced rough-n-ready kid; Marty (David Stollery), a spoiled rich kid who just didn't "get it."  (Surprise: later, he "gets it.")  Class warfare on the prairie--what could be more exciting?

Okay, but what--whom--I really loved was Mouseketeer Doreen.  I really liked Annette and Darlene better--but I knew I had no chance with them: They were too gorgeous for the likes of me.  (I did tell my gullible fourth-grade buddies that I was Annette's pen pal, a patent lie they either believed with a sweet pre-adolescent innocence--and called for no evidence whatsoever--or disbelieved with such profound certainty that they did not even bother to challenge or scoff--as if I'd claimed kinship with Zorro or Davy Crockett.  They reacted the same way when I told them I was related to Daniel Boone--you know, the "Daniel" part.

Doreen, you see, is cute.  Looks like an Oklahoma girl, actually.  Someone who would see in me a soul-mate.

Or so I thought--no, believed--in 1955.

The one thing I did not like about The Mickey Mouse Club was the adult on the show--Jimmie Dodd.  (No one I ever knew spelled "Jimmy" like that--and "Dodd" rhymes with odd, which is weird.)  He would always pop up just as I was getting some good looks at Doreen, and at the end of the show each night he would come out and sing and talk seriously with the Mouseketeers (and us) about Life.

During one of those treacly talks I remember he coined a word for us--a word, a virtue, something we all should possess and display: stick-to-it-tivity.  Don't quit stuff, you know--stick it out.  I found that advice, later on, of no value whatsoever.  I quit basketball in college (I sucked); I quit playing piano (ditto); I quit trying hard in upper-level math (ditto).  It's very human, you know, quitting when you suck. Focusing on activities in which you have no suckery.  It's also called wisdom.  It's probably why we survived.  If our prehistoric ancestors had employed stick-to-it-tivity with things they sucked at, we'd actually be living The Planet of the Apes right now.

Anyway, in recent weeks a couple of words popped up on my computer, courtesy of the various word-a-day sites I subscribe to.  One was on 13 March--from the Oxford English Dictionary--bouncebackability.  The venerable scholars at the OED traced that one back to a 1961 sports article--about the Cleveland Indians!

The other, from Wordsmith, was preantepenultimate--which means fourth from the last.  If you finish in that spot, you probably suck, and ought to quit, Jimmie or no Jimmie ...

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