A hand-lettered, one-word sign hung from the seat of a bicycle on my rack one evening. It evoked a deep meditation within, as my eyes scanned its passing surroundings for 30 minutes.
We see a plethora of bumper stickers and random messages on sidewalks, cars and even billboards. Some are too verbose, using many words where just one can do the job. This societal art provoked contemplation as I meandered along a dark yet charming Portland neighborhood.
How versatile, this word. It works as a noun, adjective, verb, pronoun, adverb, exclamation, inquiry, descriptor, insult, compliment, historical reference and several other forms. It's disconcerting how this now has become an overused bit of everyday speech. Throughout my childhood, I never heard my parents say it. None of my brothers or I would have dared utter such in their presence.
As the bike's owner exited, I asked "Is your sign a statement, simple expletive, or the current state of humanity?"
A lass of about 20, she stopped to ponder before exiting. Her eyes, solemn yet playful, rose to meet mine. "I haven't quite decided yet," she said with a smile.
She then pedaled into the abyss, sign swaying in the breeze. Surely, you've guessed by now. The word was...