As a copywriter and marketer, my life is filled with words. I love words. I love the effect they have. Words woven perfectly together can do powerful things. Words start wars. Words persuade people to do things they shouldn’t. And things they should. Words can heal. Words can cut deeper than any knife. Words begin romances.
I fell in love with my husband on our first date over a night of words. We talked through two movies at a drive-in over cold pizza and candy. I remember thinking the whole time “he understands everything I say.” Understanding words is crucial to allowing their power to reach you. I can hear or read something in French, and think it’s beautiful, but because it’s not my first language, the effect is not as strong.
I wish I were better at speaking words. I feel more comfortable writing them. It’s not until I write that I know what I’m really trying to say. People who are gifted at oral rhetoric amaze me, even if I don’t like what they’re saying. President Bill Clinton was a good rhetorician. He could throw and spin words like darts until you couldn’t remember what question he was answering, and you didn’t care anymore – you just liked the way he sounded.
Shakespeare, of course, was the greatest word artist in history. He took a language that was course, choppy, and Germanic and lifted it to a level that near reached heaven. He even created words in his plays and then defined them so we’d know what they were. I learned to love Shakespeare most during a summer stint at Cambridge in UK. The class was taught by a teaching fellow named Simon, that all the girls loved and the boys envied. He wore sandals and loose fitting shirts that hung low on his chest, and I don’t even think he was that good-looking. But he spoke so romantically that he bewitched us so well that I’m still spellbound.
Wes was the first guy I dated in several years that loved language as much as I do. Hence our little toddler is blessed (or we’re just cursed) with our love of words. He talks constantly, and only some of it is jibberish. He emphasizes most of his words so well that you can’t ignore what he’s saying, even if you’d like to. Yesterday we were driving by a park and he calls out “Sssllliiiiiiiieeeeedddd! Shlliiiiiiiededd!, with more enthusiasm than you’d think possible, so that I had no other option but to turn around and let him play on the slide for an hour.