Today I invented a word. Unfortunately I can only barely remember what I invented it to do.
The word is “mothabout,” pronounced like “moth”, with the soft “th” like in “math” instead of the rougher “th” in “lathe,” combined with “about.” I imagine the stress would fall on the first syllable, with a secondary stress on the last syllable, if necessary. I would try to type that out phonetically the way it would appear in the dictionary, but I can’t remember right now how to make all of the fancy symbols.
Either way, I invented it in that twilight between waking and sleeping, and it seemed like a perfectly good idea. Unfortunately I was then dragged back from sleeping, and my inspiration faded very quickly. Although I suppose it’s fortunate that I was dragged back, or I wouldn’t remember the word at all. Also many other things.
It was a hectic morning at my house. The usual procedure is that I stay up later than my wife does, both for personal reasons–I like nighttime and have trouble falling asleep–and practical ones–taking care of the kids during the first part of the night is my job–but then she lets me sleep a bit later than she does. Today, rather before even she wanted to wake up, two things happened.
First, our infant son woke up hungry. He takes hunger seriously at the best of times. We’ve been trying to get him to sleep longer at night (so that we can sleep longer at night), so he especially takes hunger seriously when he wakes up in the morning. His poor little tummy reminds him that it has been too long without food, and then he dutifully passes that message onto us. He has all the patience and understanding for delays that you would imagine in a baby.
At very nearly the same moment, my daughter was explosively ill. I won’t go into detail, so as not to involve you in gross things which even we would have preferred to miss in spite of the fact that she’s our daughter and we like being involved in her life, but she started crying and came stumbling into our room for help.
Naturally, my wife’s and my morning changed trajectory immediately. She took care of our son; I took care of our daughter. We got them both soothed and settled. (And clean, another important consideration.) The whole business took about an hour and a half, once we factored in cleaning up our daughter’s room.
By that point I was pretty groggy. When my son went down for his first nap of the day, I asked my wife if I might take a small nap as well. (At that point I had only slept perhaps four hours. Many other people I know can subsist on so little, but if I try to do it, I fall asleep halfway through the word “subsist.”) She kindly consented to continuing the caretaking a cappella. (Apparently I’m a musical instrument. Mostly I wanted to continue the alliteration. I suppose I could have used “unaccompanied,” but “a cappella” came to mind first.)
Either way, I stumbled back to bed and began the long process of falling back to sleep. Somewhere in there I was thinking over one difficulty or another, and thinking about ways to address it, and ways other people have addressed it. All of those methods, both the ones to which I gravitated and the ones which others had already employed, seemed rather non-committal, circuitous, wishy-washy, and other such terms as might describe dancing around something rather than being direct.
In my sleepy state though, I described it as “trying to mothabout the subject.”
You’ll have to take my word for it that I described it as “trying to mothabout the subject” rather than “trying to moth about the subject.” I think in text, so I know there was no space.
It seemed like such a beautiful word. (And I understand that other words exist for this same basic idea–I have a thesaurus too–but I like my new word.)
Since then I have realized that it is rather difficult to decline. I mothabout; he mothabouts? I mothabout, and so I have mothabouted? This would of course all be easier if there had been a space–“he moths about, I have mothed about”–but there wasn’t. Perhaps I’m the only person who finds it jarring to decline something which smacks of being a preposition.
I think the subjunctive should be “mythabout.” (e.g. “If I be hesitant, and if I mythabout, please forgive me.”)
Now I’m out of time. I encourage you to use this word though. It will make you seem erudite and hip, and not at all strange. Again, you might need to trust me about that, especially when the evidence begins to mount for quite the opposite. Just keep using it. The world will eventually be on our side.