It’s a commonly held dictum amongst my peers that a writer should write. I’m a writer, a novelist by trade. Today that means more than stories. It means blogs, tweets and Facebook chatter, among other social media venues. I’ve resisted for years. Email and Facebook have been my only forays into the world of cyber communication, but perhaps it’s time for me to jump in. So here I am, at A Flippancy Floppancy, for anyone who might be perusing the blogosphere and happen upon my humble offerings, which shall be eclectic and erratic. I have no theme, except the random thoughts and memories that drift across my mind.
Why Flippancy Floppancy? What does that mean? Indulge me while I share a bit of my childhood.
My maternal grandfather was a dapper little Englishman. He stood five feet four inches tall, had a short, gray flattop haircut and a gray bristle-brush mustache. He chuckled a lot, which reminded me of cooing pigeons. Most days he dressed in properly creased slacks, a collared, button down shirt and a sweater vest and he sported a pocket watch, which he consulted often.
Born in 1886, Grandpa was a product of the Victorian era. Manners and gentility were important. When dining with friends, excellent manners included proper speech. And my grandfather was always proper, though with a twinkle in his snappy, dark eyes.
In the article, Among the Old Words, Frederic G. Cassidy of the University of Wisconsin noted: “Proper speech being an appurtenance of good manners, they composed, and taught their children, certain formulas of polite expression fitting to such social situations as they were liable to encounter. They knew well that informality is notoriously untrustworthy, that the spur of the moment can urge a speaker to disastrous infelicities. Far better to be prepared, to have an appropriate formula fall trippingly off the tongue. Imagine, for example, the dinner guest who, having partaken of everything in sight, is being plied by his hostess to stuff himself further. Smiling assuredly, he replies, “No thank you. I have had a genteel sufficiency—any more would be superfluity.” The occasion is met, the temptation resisted, and the formula has attested to the propriety of the guest’s upbringing.”
Perhaps due, in part, to my grandparents’ genteel manners and delightful quirks, I have become a lover of language, of manners and of history.
Grandfather Fox was a Renaissance Man: a Quaker preacher, a scholar, theologian, a man of letters—primarily to the San Diego Union Letters to the Editor column and to politicians, and a philanthropist who was instrumental in fundraising for the Humane Society and the Good Will in San Diego. He was born to medical missionaries in Madagascar, raised in Scotland, then immigrated to America by working his way across Canada as a cowboy, then coming into the United States through Washington State.
When we would eat a meal with grandpa, he had interesting habits, like lining peas up on his knife, and drinking his tea out of a saucer. He would tuck his cloth napkin into his shirt collar, and when he finished, he would remove the napkin, dab at his mouth and mustache, sit back and declare the meal was a flippancy floppancy, or a sufficiency floppancy (he used the two interchangeably). That was his proper speech to indicate he was full, and he couldn’t eat another bite, thank you very much.
My life has been a satisfying flippancy floppancy. Always filled with plentitude to the point of overflowing. That is not to say always easy or pleasant. Hunger can be assuaged with liver and onions or gruel, as well as turkey and gravy and pumpkin pie. But I’m a glass-half-full sort of person. I tend to ac-centuate the positives and e-liminate the negatives.
So, welcome. I hope today brings you a flippancy floppancy. And I hope my musings bring some pleasure, some nostalgia, some food for thought and some inspiration to those who stop by from time to time. Blessings, ~ Sunni