The Power of Words…

I Dated Captain Ron for Three Years


From an illustration by Tim Burton


I have a friend who calls me Word Girl. He says I have the ability to leap tall buildings with a single well turned phrase: save an alcoholic from drinking with a sentence. Although this romantic notion has me picturing myself in bicep-flexed concert with the X-Men (Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine, Word Girl), I know most people don’t equate mutant, superpowers with the ability to spew perfectly nuanced words on cue….


More fitting I suppose, is the lineup of Tim Burton’s misfit toys: Pincushion, Brie Boy, The Girl With Many Eyes, The Melancholy Oyster Boy and Word Girl…


Alcoholics are a skittish bunch. It is imprudent to lecture or accuse them. But I have decided it is dangerous to speak of problem drinking, using positive words and phrases, especially for those who are thinking about not drinking and the newly sober. My alter-ego, Word Girl, has begun to call people on it.


The other day I got a comment from a woman who hides booze in her closet (duh – wine bottles make great boot trees). She referred, with a verbal sigh, to liquor as her “old friend”.  Liquor IS NOT this woman’s “friend”, unless it’s the friend who borrows the car and brings it back on empty, or the one who flirts with your husband and “forgets” your birthday. It is risky to think about drinking with fuzzy, umber nostalgia.


Another reader who waxes poetic, sent me an email about a dream he had where shots of whiskey were lined up on a bar top with the perfect dapple of sunlight, casting golden shadows… He remarked that it made him long for that “amazing liquid”.  The only thing “amazing” about this dude together with whiskey, is that he is alive to reminisce.


I used to do the same thing. I would smile wistfully and speak of the memory of a delicious, frosted glass of Chardonnay as if a beloved great-aunt had died. These days, I try to keep top of mind, the fact that drinking white wine is also the reason I have blurry memories of crawling around on bathroom floors looking for my teeth…


Words have power.


The right (or wrong) words can conjure a mental image so strong it makes your mouth water.

Today I’m not drinking because Word Girl says I should remember my wine-slopping together with words like: “hematoma” and, well, “slopping”…

How come you’re not drinking?