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Aug 8, 2021
This week’s theme
People

This week’s words
verigreen
raffish
clamant
draggletailed
faitour

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives
Index

Next week’s theme
Words that look one part of speech but are other

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AWADmail Issue 997

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

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From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Covid, vaccines, and 5G

In sharing the story of Tom, an anti-vaxxer, I had expected some like-minded readers to be upset, but I didn’t know the extent of it. Hundreds of them wrote: Some unsubscribed. Some sent unhappy messages. Some unsubscribed and sent unhappy messages:

Bringing your Covid politics into the definition of words (a place where others might be going to enlighten themselves without being inundated with Covid every other two seconds like they are everywhere else) and using your mailing list to flaunt your pettiness by insulting someone else doesn’t make that person look bad -- it makes you look bad. If the human race goes extinct it’ll be because we couldn’t raise ourselves up to act better than the child you just acted like in your mailing list which makes you no better than this “Tom” you went on and on about. In fact, you look worse actually because you said nothing to his face and waited to talk smack in your mailing list behind his back to a bunch of strangers on the Internet like a textbook high school mean girl. Grow up. Please.
-Mel Dykes, Texas (cloudylissa gmail.com)

Not all were like this. Such comments were balanced by messages like this one:

Thank you. You have been and still are a lifeline of sanity, balance, thoughtfulness and good will during the pandemic. My entire extended family and I are grateful. We have buzzed each other with definitions, been embarrassed by mispronunciations, followed links, and saved quotations for years -- all because of you. As you can see, writing is not my strong suit but today’s AWAD nudged me into trying. You are a hero.
-JoAnn Durfee, Eugene, Oregon (jmcdurfee hotmail.com)

You’d think I had written two different versions of the story and the readers’ comments depended on which version they had received.

So many of the comments were filled with conspiracies. Mark Baldwin of Raleigh, North Carolina (baldwinm78 yahoo.com), wrote, “So many lies. There are treatments. But they have tried to hide them from us.” He did not mention who “they” are and why they would try to hide treatment instead of selling it like any other medicine.

Gary Beacom from Vancouver, Canada (gary_beacom yahoo.com), wrote: “Your anti-Trump stance and now gullibility at believing that there is such a thing as Coronavirus in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary frankly dismays me. I assume you get all your information from mainstream propaganda. You will perhaps learn eventually during this global genocide through a lethal injection that you have been had.” He didn’t care to learn that nearly all Covid deaths in US are now among the unvaccinated (must be mainstream propaganda -- better to stick with off-Broadway propaganda). He also didn’t take a moment to reflect why Trump himself got the vaccine or why he accelerated the development of the vaccine.

John Craw of Glenford, Ohio (hecrawh gmail.com), wrote a long message complaining about the CDC and added “Their writing lacks style, substance, organization.” I too wish the CDC hired only the best writers, those who have had their novels on the NYT bestsellers list for a minimum of six months. I mean, first things first.

Kerry Owen of Australia (owen5 bigpond.com) wrote: “By forcing your political views onto others you are undermining freedom of speech which is already under extreme attack by your political associates. An honest website keeps its views to itself.” I had forgotten that I can force people to subscribe, to read, and not be able to unsubscribe. Also, not let them speak wherever they want to. Thanks for a reminder of my awesome superpower. Now wondering if an honest book keeps its views to itself too. Will have to rethink this manuscript I have been working on.

Janet Levy from Los Angeles, California (janet levyross.com), wrote: “Attorney Reiner Fuelmich, member of the bar in California and Germany ... explains ... effective early treatments and the safety of the vaccines.” I too go to a lawyer when I need medical advice and to a doctor for legal work.

If you thought it’s unusual that people leaning a certain direction politically are more prone to conspiracy theories and magical thinking, it’s by design. Read on.



From: Bob Galli (rcgalli optimum.net)
Subject: Critical Thinking

When you mentioned Tom was not a critical thinker, I immediately pulled up what I’ve had for years from the 2012 Texas Republican Party platform. Perhaps Tom went to school in TX?

“Knowledge-Based Education -- We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.” (bolded mine)

Reference: GOP Opposes Critical Thinking: Party platform paints original ideas as a liberal conspiracy (The Austin Chronicle)

Bob Galli, Edison, New Jersey



From: Dick Cleek (dick.cleek uwc.edu)
Subject: Not a critical thinker

You asked “What would you call people like Tom?” I’m not going to be surprised if one term we wind up using in the future is “Republican”. It is already losing its political meaning. It seems to be changing to any situation where a person is gullible, narrow, mean-spirited, and paranoid.

Dick Cleek, Madison, Wisconsin



From: Ryan Lennon (lennon.ryan.j gmail.com)
Subject: Tom and others

I appreciate your restraint and call for empathy. We can’t solve our world’s problems without compassion, and that includes compassion for those whom we struggle to understand.

What to call someone like Tom? How about “trapped in a narrative”? (Is there a word for that?) Tom may very well be a critical thinker in other areas of his life. For better or worse our brains all use stories to help us navigate the larger world around us, and when those narratives are threatened, one’s choices usually amount to A) develop a new (often more complicated and nuanced) narrative or B) defend the current narrative by bending or dismissing the facts. Choosing A often means dealing with increased uncertainty, humility, and even a loss of identity. We have all chosen B at some point in our lives.

Ryan Lennon, Rochester, Minnesota



From: Donald N. Smith (mnr.dns verizon.net)
Subject: Today’s comment by Anu

About Tom, you wonder if one should look upon him as “not a critical thinker”. I feel that the “critical” is redundant. Such people simply do not think, they believe. Their “knowledge” is revealed, not demonstrated. They do indeed take the Kool-Aid, believing the Jim Joneses and Trumpies of this world. Religion’s fairy tales have prepared them well for their verigreenery over many generations!

Donald N. Smith, Brooklyn, New York



From: Robert Carleton (Enchanted128 outlook.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--verigreen

Tom is a member of the obliverati. He’s willfully ignorant, blinkered, and bamboozled by his own fears and may also be intoxicated with animosity.

Bob Carleton, Albuquerque, New Mexico



From: Claude Galinsky (cmgalinsky gmail.com)
Subject: Vaccine deniers

I prefer the term covidiot for people like Tom. My neologism coprocerebral runs a close second.

Those who have become willing agents of weaponized stupidity have managed to completely erode any tolerance I once had for the uninformed. I can no longer extend a presumption of mere ignorance on their part due to lack of information. They have made a conscious decision to reject reality because of their loyalty to right-wing demagogues and propagandists.

Claude Galinsky, Westford, Massachusetts



From: Orrin Drew (odrew juno.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--verigreen

Covid-19 can damage the heart, lung, and brain. Luckily for the person you were talking to, he just needs to worry about lung damage.

Orrin Drew, Everett, Washington



From: Daniel D’Souza (danny23 gmail.com)
Subject: Covid non-believers...

Wouldn’t the simplest solution be to make all these Covid non-believers work in hospitals? Pay them a lot of money to do it also. Then let’s see how long they keep the mask off.

Daniel D’Souza, Pune, India



From: David Berger (dab314 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--verigreen

Sign at Immaculate Conception Church in Hackensack: Vaccines and masks don’t work, prayers work.

David Berger, Fort Lee, New Jersey



Email of the Week -- Brought to you by Wise Up! -- the family that travels together unravels together.

From: Blayney Colmore (blayneycolmore gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--verigreen

This very sweet young woman who helps us with our gardens, here in Vermont, warned us the other day that she had learned on TikTok (whatever that is) that “Biden is plowing under crops and dumping oil reserves.” We looked incredulous. “Why would he do that?” She didn’t know, just knew it was happening. I said, “This sounds like Trump propaganda.” “I sure hope so,” she said, but clearly doesn’t think so.

You make me feel as if I’m not alone in my despair, wondering at our species’ determination to extinct ourselves.

Blayney Colmore, Jacksonville, Vermont



From: Tim Johnson (timchowki comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--verigreen

5G and Covid? Well, I’m aware of 4G Republican congressional verigreens whose actions both encourage Covid denial and insurrection against the government they are sworn to uphold/defend (Reps. Gaetz, Gohmert, Gosar, and Greene). Maybe their colleague, Bob Good, as the fellow-travelling fifth G?

Tim Johnson, Decatur, Georgia



From: Kristin Strachan (ourhouse37 hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--verigreen

I saw a lady on TV who watched her kid have Covid and still won’t get the vaccine for herself because “I don’t trust the government.”

I betcha she trusts the government well enough to accept her Covid relief check and other bennies.

Kristin Strachan, Highlands Ranch, Colorado



From: Frances M Hendry (francesmhendry2704 gmail.com)
Subject: Anti-vaxx

Rather than the card offered to you, it would be more considerate if Covid deniers carried a card saying, “I do not believe Covid exists, and refuse to take the recommended precautions against it. If I should fall ill of it, I therefore refuse any treatment for it, putting nurses, doctors and their families at risk.”

Frances M Hendry, Nairn, Scotland



From: Saba Mueller-Kaul (smk mmm.com)
Subject: Toms

I feel your pain. I’m married to a much milder version of your Tom and we were constantly at odds about Trump’s actions as president and we still are at great odds about this virus. Obviously, I got vaccinated as early as I was eligible.

The tragedy to me is that the Toms of this world believe us to be the sheep that “simply believe everything big media tells us” and think of themselves as critical thinkers. Often, this issue seems accompanied by a highly limited or non-existing grasp of probabilities and percentage ratios. Similarly often combined with a limited precision of language, where words like “always” and “never” are rampant, comparisons of mask-wearing mandates and Third Reich control methods are drawn, and correlation and causality are interchanged. I’ve resigned myself to conclude that a person that constantly feels at odds with the world, since their language and math abilities exclude them from understanding slightly more complex coherences or comparabilities, becomes wary of anything they are being told that they can’t touch, smell, or see and default to disbelief/distrust. The current media environment gives a platform to people of an equally limited grasp of the world around them and the confirmation bias of the people consuming content on these platforms tanks it all.

I don’t have to believe something if I can verify and understand it. If I understand something, I don’t have to trust what I’m being told is correct. I think being suspicious of things we don’t understand is instinctual and leads to paranoia in a seemingly ever growing portion of the population. It remains shocking to me that the Toms of this world would rather believe to be led by people that seek their disadvantage than choosing to believe what’s being done is done for everyone’s interest or at least with the best of intentions. Which brings me to the saddest part of this train of thoughts: If we as humans infer other people’s motives from ourselves -- doesn’t that hint to the Toms of this world at their core seeking their own advantage while disregarding the interests of others?

Saba Mueller-Kaul, Traunstein, Germany



From: Bruce Floyd (brucefloyd bellsouth.net)
Subject: Thought of the Day (Re: clamant)

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Our sincerest laughter With some pain is fraught; Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought. -Percy Bysshe Shelley

Perhaps the most poignant truth of the human condition is how alone a self-conscious creature is, his or her essence locked away from the world by the carapace of flesh in which this essence lives, and, of course, this oozing and bleeding and aching bastion of flesh in which we are imprisoned insists on reminding us how fragile and mortal it is, fated to rot away. We wonder: what happens to me when the flesh dies, if one can explain what “me” is. I have a friend who has wandered deeply into the increasing darkness of Alzheimer’s. He knows not me. Where is his ‘me”? Emily Dickinson says, “The soul condemned to be-- / Attended by a single Hound / Its own identity.” We singular self-conscious creatures find ourselves with our self-consciousness trailing along behind us like a solitary hound.

Sometimes, however, or so I’ve heard it said or have read it, one can, usually in the presence of great art or some transcendental emotional moment, find oneself merging with all being, being immersed in the great ocean of cosmic consciousness, a world not of disparate and alienated parts but, rather, a world of One, a world of unity, the music of the spheres latching onto the ears of the soul, and all existence falls into harmony.

Shelley’s poem “To Jane (The keen stars were twinkling”) describes a moment when a sublime world of unity reveals itself for a moment to him. I surmise Shelley is on his boat, the “Ariel,” in the Bay of Spezia (the same bay in which he’d drown later). With him is Jane Williams. She is playing a guitar. It’s a summer night, gentle, a dreaming breeze over the water, the sky full of stars, a “fair moon rising among them.” The pure grandeur of the moment is propitious. It’s as if Shelley’s imagination finds itself commensurate with his experience, what Keats means when in one of his sonnets he imagines those stunned men “silent upon a peak in Darien” who eye with almost disbelief the mighty Pacific Ocean lying before them, its waves lapping the shore.

His imagination working its legerdemain on his eyes and ears, something sublime overcomes him, and suddenly the tone, not only of the guitar but of the entire ambit, discloses

A tone
Of some world far from ours
Where music and moonlight and feeling
Are one.


Bruce Floyd, Florence, South Carolina



From: Sarah R. Margolis (srm2206 columbia.edu)
Subject: Rafi being raffish

My friend Rafi is raffish. See these texts.

Sarah R. Margolis, New York, New York



A Whale of a Tale
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: verigreen and faitour

Now knowing the definition of verigreen, I recalled the tale of Simple Simon. As we know, first he met a pieman, but had nary a penny for his thoughts, or even to buy that pie. But his attempt to hook a whale in a pail of water took the cake. Let’s face it, Ahab’s quest for Moby Dick was at least plausible in Melville’s universe. Simple Simon, on the other hand, could be the poster boy for the quintessential verigreen.

Hand Mashie


Golf is a sport governed by strict rules long-established by the Royal & Ancient Golf Assoc. of St. Andrews, Scotland, jointly enforced with the US Golf Association. Most pro golfers are well aware of “the rules” and try to maintain a high degree of on-course ethics. On the other hand, the average amateur golfer may not be totally familiar with the “official” rules, and might yield to the temptation to cheat, to gain an advantage or to avoid an embarrassing score on a messed-up hole. Here, we witness Jake, a chronic cheater, tossing his ball from the sandtrap, what’s called in golf parlance a “hand mashie”... a mashie being an arcane club similar to today’s five iron. As the saying goes, “Cheaters never prosper.” The vengeful golf gods will get them. Ha!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



Pangraph

On January 6th, the verigreen, draggletailed rioters, following the lead of their clamant, raffish, and faitour president stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York, (perrinjoan aol.com)



Anagrams

   
Antigram (anagram that’s opposite of the original)
Words to describe people:
1. verigreen
2. raffish
3. clamant
4. draggletailed
5. faitour
= 1. simple or rattlebrained
2. coarse
3. loud, given fears
4. ragged, wilted
5. cheat, ripoff
     1. verigreen
2. raffish
3. clamant
4. draggletailed
5. faitour
= Anagram:
1. dolt, naïf
2. vulgar feel
3. is dire
4. grifter
5. cheat
     This week’s theme: People
1. verigreen
2. raffish
3. clamant
4. draggletailed
5. faitour
= 1. egghead hereof’s a wise chap
2. formal; refined; genteel
3. trivial
4. kempt
5. altruist
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Limericks

The American voter, ‘twould seem
Is a verigreen lost in some dream.
How else to explain
The lapse in his brain
That puts him on Donald Trump’s team?
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

The young lass was so shy, yet she’d always preen.
Her fab looks were the type which caused thoughts obscene.
For each man she’d undress,
Even more ... I digress,
She was such a convincible verigreen.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

A bridge that’s in Brooklyn he’d buy,
‘Cause he is a gullible guy.
This verigreen’s dumb,
So conmen all come
And sell him some pie in the sky.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

A bully, known to be very mean,
Would pick on a weakling or verigreen.
But, a girl who was tough
Thought that she saw enough,
And dumped on his head her Dairy Queen.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“We have never so great of an era seen,
Yet the media call me a verigreen,”
Sighed Ronald. “Relax,”
Answered Nancy, “They’re hacks;
Please don’t worry, dear, have a nice jelly bean.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


How raffish and rakish his style!
How utterly charming his smile!
“I’m in love,” you may moan,
But you won’t be alone --
The ladies he’s known to beguile.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

From village boy to city slicker,
the transformation couldn’t be quicker.
Though his new shades raffish
were opulent and lavish,
their dangling price tag caused a snigger.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

There’s nothing so lowbrow and raffish
As sticking your arm in a catfish.
But go far enough south
And a fist in one’s mouth
They think great entertainment -- quite lavish.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Clamant babies, demanding their feed,
Or the changing of nappies they’ve peed,
Drive a mum to despair.
Of course, daddy’s not there.
Never is when his woman’s in need.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

A clamant dissent might be best,
With Justice asleep or at rest.
So, let’s wake up the nation
With a loud demonstration.
Some things simply must be redressed.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

My fashion teen daughter is clamant;
“I can’t wear this ugly old raiment!
I’ll go to the mall
And shop ev’ry stall,
And you be there please for the payment!”
-Sondra Landin, New York, New York (sunnytravel att.net)

It comes to his teacher’s attention
that he has been flouting convention.
His voice is too clamant,
and so is his raiment.
Says she, “You are courting suspension!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The clamant young birds in the nest
Had issues they wanted addressed.
“We need to be fed!”
To which Mother said,
“Be patient, I’m trying my best.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If you’re brown and confused and too clamant,
With your life you’ll end up making payment.
When she cried, “Put me down,
For you’re soiling my gown!”
Poor King Kong didn’t know what Fay Wray meant.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


(To the question, “On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to use this word?”)
And my answer to that, sir’s, eleven.
Which you’ll know, sir, is four more than seven.
Since the word’s set for use,
I’m compelled, no excuse
If I ‘chieve it, I’ve made lim’rick heaven.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

I’m draggletailed? That is a smear!
I’ll make it now perfectly clear.
I wish I knew why
You’re spreading this lie.
I’ve taken my shower this year!
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

The children had paid little heed
to their mom. They got dirty indeed.
Unhappy, she wailed,
“You’re all draggletailed!
A vigorous scrubbing you’ll need!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Yuck! Draggletailed brings to my mind
The image of an unkempt kind.
Who, if I am real,
Has zero appeal,
Unless one is totally blind!
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The men on the street cursed their plights and wailed,
Claiming life was unfair so they got derailed.
These old gents were all slobs,
Part of criminal mobs,
Each of them was so straggly and draggletailed.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

The draggletailed lad on the farm
Is known for his country boy charm.
He’s cute, all can see,
But most girls agree
A shower would do him no harm.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

What a draggletailed miscreant, he,
My new office hand, turned out to be!
I must get to the service
And tell them I’m nervous
What’s the background of that employee?
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

As the gander was looking quite draggletailed,
His proposal to Abigail Gabble failed.
Shrugging “Why mate for life?”
He cleaned up, took no wife,
Founded Playbird, and soon a whole gaggle nailed.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


My old granddad is faitour elite,
And he’s taught me the arts of the cheat.
How to trick and relieve
Of their cash the naive,
And ensure an opponent’s defeat.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

I aspire to things that are greater.
No liar am I, nor a faitour.
I’m really no fool.
I’ve dropped out of school.
I’m hoping to be a great waiter.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Though the guy who kept trying to date ‘er
was truly a smooth operator,
this chick kept her cool.
Said she, “I’m no fool,
and you, sir, are surely a faitour!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Trump’s tax returns no one can see.
How damning their numbers must be!
Just what do they show?
We’d all like to know --
What sort of a faitour is he?
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“I’m still the real Prez,” said the faitour,
And his daughter replied, “No one’s greater.
And I know you’re still mad,
But it’s Passover, Dad,
Can we please just go on with the Seder?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



Puns

I spent over $200 on that lawn, and it’s still not verigreen. Now what?
-Ray Pasinski, Downers Grove, Illinois (rayomic yahoo.com)

“I’m not feeling verigreen,” moaned the parched houseplant.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The chaperone told the rowdy students to quit acting so riff-raffish.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“Pahk the cah and let’s get some raffish,” said the sushi lover from Boston.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said the old prospector, “I’m going to stake my clamant then start digging for gold.”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“We’re a modern family,” the scallop told his children. “That’s why you have a lobster uncle and a clamant.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The limping bank robber had hoped to hightail it out of there, but he just draggletailed it.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“As we continue touring the Big Easy,” said the guide, “You’ll notice that the number of men in draggletailed-own as we get further from Bourbon Street.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The pompous food critic derisively called a patron of cafeterias a buff-faitour-ist.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Do you believe in faitor free will?
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



Simone & Naomi... smiling on the outside
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Smiling on the outside

The constant pressure on high-profile athletes has manifested itself in current world No. 1 tennis player Naomi Osaka and GOAT (greatest of all time) gymnast Simone Biles, opening up about their mental and emotional health challenges. At the recent Olympic women’s gymnastics finals, Biles pulled out of the team competition early on, citing the stress of performing to high expectations and the sudden loss of her mental edge. Naomi Osaka pulled out of this year’s French Open and didn’t even play Wimbledon, due to bouts of depression and self-doubt.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
No one worth possessing / Can be quite possessed. -Sara Teasdale, poet (8 Aug 1884-1933)

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