Some choice words

A compliment is appreciated at any age, but receiving one when you have reached the age of… well, let’s just say a certain mature age, is truly uplifting. It’s especially gratifying when it comes from a complete stranger. My twenty-something self would probably have scoffed at this notion, but my somewhat older self was delighted.

We had just enjoyed a relaxing afternoon of golf while on vacation in Florida. After the round I volunteered to take our golf gear back to the rental vehicle which was parked at the far end of the lot. Meanwhile the others would check for tee times later that week. Off I zipped in the cart, unloaded the clubs, checked around for any other personal items and then changed my shoes. It had been a great afternoon; the sun was shining and I was in no hurry.

As I headed back to the clubhouse to return the cart I noticed a tall, grey-haired fellow standing by a big storage shed. He was waving at me to come that way. I had been so busy enjoying the scenery that I had almost driven right by him. So I made a big U-turn and headed in his direction. “It needs to be cleaned,” he informed me.

Now I have noticed one thing when visiting golf country clubs in warmer climates – most of the staff are retired men. This might be because they still want to keep active, but I suspect it has more to do with free access to unlimited golf. Anyway, he seemed to fit the part perfectly.

He jumped into another cart and offered me a ride back to my vehicle. He seemed to be in a bit of a hurry (maybe his tee time was up), so I apologized for being so slow. “Sorry for dawdling back there. I didn’t realize that you were waiting for me.” (Yes, I actually did use the word dawdling. Pretty lame, I know.)

He seemed to consider this for a moment before replying, “Dawdling. Hmmm. That’s a word I haven’t heard for a lo-o-o-ng time.”  I then felt compelled to explain why I would use such an old-fashioned word. “I taught English for many years, so I guess I like different words.”

Again, he seemed to be thinking and then simply said, “Pulchritudinous.”

“Excuse me?” I questioned.

“Pulchritudinous. There’s a word for you. It could be the word of the day.”  Well, I hated to admit it, but I had no idea what the word meant and he knew it. I felt rather sheepish and wished I hadn’t mentioned that I had taught English. As we neared my car he stated, “I find you very pulchritudinous.”

Well, that was of no help. Was he insulting me? The word didn’t sound very pleasant. As a matter of fact, it sounded like a bad infection! Maybe he was making fun of me and my limited vocabulary, but I thought I detected a twitch at the corner of his mouth. I wasn’t sure how to react, so I didn’t.  As I got out of the cart he politely tipped his cap to me, smiled warmly and wished me a good day.

As soon as my friend came out, I told her what had just happened. Although she had an extensive background in communications, she could shed no light on the meaning of the word. That made me feel a bit better, but this was a puzzle that I needed to solve.

As soon as we arrived back at the house where we were staying, I hurried to my Ipad and googled the word. And there it was: pulchritudinous – having great physical beauty or attractiveness. Now it was my turn to smile!


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