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From ‘perfect’ to ‘awesome’: What words are left for philosophers and poets?

What’s left for philosophers, theologians, novel writers or poets?

Pat Ryan Greene

For instance, I entered a local den of din — Crimmins Restaurant featuring surround sound — with three friends and asked for a table for four. The gorgeous hostess paused, pen in hand and asked, “Inside or outside?” 

“Outside,” I answered, hoping to escape some of the latest with-it music.

“Perfect,” she announced, a large smile illuminating her lovely face as she led us to our table.

I began questioning myself, “Did she mean I pronounced ‘outside’ correctly as if this is a class in English, or is she assessing my appearance?” — which in my 85 years of existence had never been described as perfect.

At our table, we settled in with menus and our beautiful waitress began to take orders. There were the usual discussions with us diners of maturing age — “I’m a vegetarian— what would you suggest?” “I have severe allergies — what are the ingredients of this pomegrante molasses soup?” “Can I have the shrimp appetizer instead of the piece of cornbread,” and as our fourth member concluded his choices, #3 popped up with, “I think I’ll change my souffle order to what that person is having” as he indicated a woman at the next table.  

After many erasures on her notepad, she surveyed us and concluded with, “Fabulous.” Did she mean we ordered very intelligently or magnificently — or had she reached a fabulous point in her evening when she could head for the kitchen?

Later, as she passed by on her way to pick up burgers for another table, she asked, “How is everything tasting?” I hadn’t noticed what the halibut lying on my plate had tasted and he hadn’t indicated either enjoyment or disdain. Neither had the mashed potatoes.

Diner #2, taking advantage of her momentary pause in direction, asked, “Can we have more butter?” Her answer was, “Absolutely.” 

Now, “absolutely” is from the noun “absolute,” which is weighted with possibilities — in philosophy, they are “values or principles regarded as universally valid” or “may be viewed without relation to other things” — i.e., “good and evil are presented as absolutes.” Or “that which exists without being dependent on anything else,” and in theology, the utimate reality or absolute is God. How does butter fit into this scheme of things?

The next day, while I was tilted back in the chair, the dental assistant told me to open my mouth, which I managed to do.

“Awesome!” she said with enthusiasm. 

“For heaven’s sake,” I thought. “What on earth has she seen in there?”

To return to our beginning question: “What’s left for philosophers, theologians, novel writers and poets? I conclude, “Not a lot.”

How can they describe trees, mountains, sunsets, works of arts, performances or even the divine when all the words like “perfect,” “fabulous,” and “awesome” have been used up — totally?

Pat Ryan Greene is a retired editor/writer from Minneapolis.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Judith Logue on 11/06/2015 - 10:30 am.

    Sticks and Stones

    Remember when we all felt that way – that words were innocuous? Today words haven’t become trite, though the over abundance of them in the air would make one think so. Words are more important than ever.

    Just ask, someone who has problems with literacy how important they are. ..

  2. Submitted by Gary Gleason on 11/06/2015 - 01:27 pm.


    Long ago I learned that words are the most important tools of our society. While they may no longer grind grain or spark fires, how we use them is important. Let’s say what we mean and mean what we say. I don’t have a problem with that, do you?

  3. Submitted by Ken Fritsch on 11/07/2015 - 10:39 pm.


    To make words sing a picture is beauty
    Speaking as you are told to is cold duty .

    The waitress and dental assistant were speaking to you as they were told to as they did their duty for you. Let us not add to their duty.

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