My writing comes to a dead stop. What is that word? The one which is kind of the like opposite of what it is saying … like the word contradicts itself. It starts with O. I struggle, trying to engage that state of mind you have when falling into sleep and suddenly you can recall the name which has eluded you all day and you have to make the choice; do I get up and write it down and risk not getting back to sleep or do I try and memorize it with the risk of waking up and having forgotten it again. I think “I can look it up” but am bone tired and the only book within arm’s reach is a tattered 1974 paperback edition of Webster’s Thesaurus with my ex-husband’s name claiming ownership on the title page. I read some of the O words: obstacle, offend, old, optional, but nothing declares itself to be the word which I seek. I question my brainpower. Is there really a word at all which aptly describes the phenomena? If so, does it really begin with an O? I am at home today with a bad headache and the inconvenience of having my sluggish heart flub every second beat. Is that why I can’t recall the word? Is this to become the new reality of my life? Words and phrases are becoming as elusive and unreachable as a daytime moon. I despair briefly and then recall that I have teenagers. Teenagers know everything – they remind me of this fact daily as they ridicule my forgetfulness. I hesitate. Sarah is at home with a cold and perhaps she is asleep. I rap lightly with my index knuckle and then cautiously open her door. She is lying on her belly with her head at the foot of her bed, reminiscent of those teenage girls in the comics of my youth. Those pert-nosed pony-tailed girls lying on their stomachs by a record player, kicking their slender calves as they drink ‘Cola’ from curvy glass bottles through paper straws. Sarah is wearing headphones and watching Torchwood on a portable DVD player. A swift flicker of her eyeballs is the only acknowledgement of my presence I receive. “Quick” I shout “What is that word? The one that demonstrates the opposite of what it wants to say – kind of like a contradiction in terms?” “Oxymoron” she replies instantly. As she flashes a self-satisfied grin I ascend into the raptures of relief. Sarah returns her attention to her entertainment, validated in her belief that teenagers do indeed know more than adults. Her work is done for the day.
Oxymoron: a rhetorical figure by which contradictory or incongruous terms are conjoined so as to give point to the statement or expression; an expression, in its superficial or literal meaning is self-contradictory or absurd, but involving a point.