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Greg Dennis: Driving through a sea of words

The idea of driving for pleasure has never appealed to me. But as we slog through whatever early spring throws at us, there are small pleasures to be found from bumper stickers.
Here’s one I saw presaging April 15: “Unlike taxes, death doesn’t go up every year.”
There’s a mommy van out there with a sticker that mourns the driver’s past status, declaring “I used to be cool.”
Another sticker tells us, “Don’t piffle! Persiflage!” I had to look that one up. Merriam-Webster says persiflage is light, mocking banter. To piffle is “to talk or act in a trivial, inept or ineffective way.”
Speaking of “inept,” whatever happened to “ept”? It’s one of those apparently non-words that have an opposite but don’t seem to exist inthemselves. Or at least they don’t get used much.
But upon investigation I must report that the dictionary says it is in fact possible to be ept. It’s now my new goal in life.
But what’s the opposite of an ingrate? It may grate on your nerves to hear this, but an especially grateful person is not a grate.
There are, however, some non-existent opposites. “Chalant,” after all, isn’t a word. And that is nothing to be nonchalant about.
But back to bumper stickers. Of course there are tons of political ones out there. Most of them are serious in tone but there are exceptions.
I recently spotted one that simply read, “Fake President.” We all know who they were talking about.
Then there’s the one claiming that the National Security Agency is “the only part of the government that actually listens.”
Some stickers along our local roads have a semi-serious message: “God is too big to fit in one religion,” states one, while another avers, “I’m straight but I’m not narrow.”
I’ll close with two local bumper stickers that have a distinctly Vermont flavor.
The first: “I ate more kale. Now what?”
The second is a timely reminder in this state with the most craft breweries per capita: “Save the Earth. It’s the only planet with beer.”
I’ll drink (but not drive) to that.
Greg Dennis’s column appears here every other Thursday and is archived on his blog at gregdennis.wordpress.com. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @greengregdennis.

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