Dick's Blog

“Whatever”, Chapter 52 of 92 of “Inside and Outside”, A Free Book

Photo on 3-19-18 at 10.56 AM

WHATEVER OR WHAT EVER. WHAT DO YOU REALLY MEAN? THAT IS THE QUESTION.

Next Week, “The Toaster Police”, Chapter 53 of 92 of “Inside and Outside”

Update:

Technology is moving so fast that something I wrote a decade ago sounds ridiculously out of date. Fortunately, the English language is mostly intact except the contractions and shortcuts used to speed up the texting process. This essay is about a play on words. You best be careful in your haste to communicate quickly that what you say “means” what you really want to say.

Whatever

We had just gotten back to our motel room after a long day of snowshoeing. My son had left his cell phone at home and was trying to call his wife using his phone company calling card. “Would you try using your calling card?” he asked. “This damn thing isn’t working!” I picked up the motel phone and punched in approximately 40 numbers to complete the call. It had been a long time since I had used mine. Now what was my PIN number? Heaven forbid you make a mistake and have to start over! I always wonder what the charge will be with the middlemen involved in calling from North Yahoo to Suburbia. God knows what local network is piling on. You may hear things on the line that are different from the usual protocol. “Welcome to the Norizon North Woods Technite System. We go far beyond your call.” Later, I found out from my phone bill that it did cost me a bundle. It wasn’t a middleman. Modern technology has changed our lives again. The advent of cell phones has made calling cards virtually obsolete, and expensive.

Handing him the phone, I tried not to listen. This was a private conversation. After all the small talk, he said, “We had a wonderful time.” Then he affectionately said, “I love you.” followed by a muted, “Whatever!” I think he meant, “What ever!” which has a different meaning.

I was initially stunned. “Whatever” seemed to diminish the vow, “I love you.” Maybe, I don’t love you, or maybe it doesn’t make any difference. What I thought I heard was far from the truth. No wonder witnesses are so unreliable in any court proceeding. When he said, “I love you,” one of his kids had probably fallen off the couch. He was talking to an empty line. The “whatever” was an acknowledgment that he was speaking into the ether, that tenuous substance that scientists used to think transmitted light through space. Then I realized, what he said to himself was a vow of commitment. The “whatever” meant, whatever happens, whatever the circumstances, through thick and thin, whether you are on the phone or not, “I will still love you!”

That got me thinking, first, about the single word, “whatever,” and the two distinct words, “what” and “ever.” “Whatever” is a run on word, an exclamation, like a sigh of resignation. The two words, “what ever,” slows things down. There is a pause between the what and the ever. “What ever you say, what ever you do my love, I still love you.” When you combine what and ever together, you get a new word, “whatever,” with a different meaning, something indifferent, dismissive or impatient. That’s what I initially heard, or thought. When I slowed it down, the true meaning came through. The same can be said about “wherever” and “whenever.” Slow them down and they say, “Where ever you are, and when ever you need me, I’ll be there to love you.” That’s a whole lot of loving.

The “whatever” thing has become a joke around our house. At first my wife objected to the add on. “I love you, what ever.” It sounded like “whatever,” like I really don’t mean what I’m saying, or saying “I love you” is just a perfunctory statement. Now, when one of us says “I love you,” the other chimes in with, “Whatever!” We break out laughing. Laughing is good. Saying, “I love you” after fifty years of marriage has taken on a deeper and richer meaning.

Next Week, “The Toaster Police”, Chapter 53 of 92 of “Inside and Outside”

Dick Sederquist is a retired engineer, engineering consultant, writer, author, hiker, motivational speaker and cancer and depression survivor. Dick suffered an emotional breakdown 35 years ago, realizing that he had been depressed all his life. That started his long journey back to mental health and happiness. Dick writes motivational and inspirational nonfiction short stories and essays for general audiences on many topics including life, family, humor, spirituality, nature, science, his volunteer prison experiences, hiking and travel adventures, depression, overcoming adversity, and what the author refers to as “home improvement”, healing the mind and body we live in. Dick and his wife have been married 50 years; have two grown children and four grandchildren, all part of a close-knit, active, caring and loving family. The whole family believes that the greatest gift in life is helping others.

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