Being that person

Think with me for a few minutes of that person who everyone seems to want to be near. This is the one whose warm smile doesn’t ever wait to size someone up first. Doesn’t need to. It just lights up naturally. Notice the way he or she always seems to turn the conversation toward you and your interests and concerns. Picture this person with me, contemplate that welcoming face.

Make you feel good? Me too.

Why do these good folks leave such a lasting impression on us? But they do. Even now, I easily can see the faces and yes, even hear the voices of two whom I knew when I was a kid in elementary school so many years ago. I remember trying to imitate them, the way they talked, mainly the way they listened to the rest of us. Never could master it. They are themselves, and I am me, but oh, I could be a better person if I could adopt some of their winning ways.

Maybe it’s not too late.

Today’s word: athleticism

An ism is a belief system or practice, such as communism, Protestantism, even antidisestablishmentarianism. It is not the correct way to express how well an athlete performs. Sports announcers made this offensive nonword part of our national vocabulary several years ago as they groped for a simpler way to express their admiration for someone’s athletic ability.

To me, it’s not a word but an example of how easy it is for a non-thinker to add to the corruption of clear and correct use of our beautiful language.

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