Monday, 14 October 2013

Foibles and Quirks

Don’t you just love how some words sound?

Foibles, for example. When you read the meaning, the word sounds exactly right.

Foible: n a minor weakness or shortcoming in personal character or behaviour; a quirk.

Quirk, another word that sounds like its meaning.

Quirk n an odd or peculiar trait; an idiosyncrasy

Where a dictionary gives you the meaning of words, a thesaurus gives you synonyms, or words with a similar meaning. Isn’t it interesting that when you look up foible or quirk in the thesaurus, you get peculiarity.

Peculiarity n a distinguishing characteristic.

I remember one night when my daughter called and asked what I was doing. I answered truthfully, I was reading the dictionary. Though I couldn’t see her, I knew she was shaking her head, thinking that was a quirk of mine.

When I write I keep a dictionary and a thesaurus close at hand. I prefer looking the words up myself rather than using the options available on the computer. The risk is I get side tracked with some interesting words and their meanings.

Back to foibles and quirks. I’m reading the meanings, and much as the dictionary links the meanings of these words there is a difference. Would I rather be quirky and thought odd, or to have foibles and be thought to have a weakness in character.

I think I’d rather be thought of as quirky, though at my age, eccentric would more likely be the word used. Wait a minute, maybe I should look up eccentric first.

Eccentric n deviating from established convention; odd.

I have a quirk; it has to do with shoe stores. I hate going into shoe stores and much prefer buying my shoes in a department store. Why? I don’t know. I think it has to do with the inability to just go in, grab my size and try it on without having to sit and go through the whole process one shoe at a time with a hovering sales clerk.

I also hate beauty salons, but I think that comes from being forced to look at myself in a mirror the whole time. Prolonged exposure to the mirror and all flaws are revealed.

I have a friend whose quirk is reading the last few pages of a book before she reads from the beginning. That one gets me, why spoil the suspense. That’s why you reread a book, so the second time you don’t have to rush through it to see what happens.

I just finished reading Nora Roberts book Angels Fall.

The main character is a young woman named Reese who is travelling alone across the U.S. She was the sole survivor in a spree killing that left twelve people dead, those people her closest friends and family.

That is a scenario that would leave anyone with some quirks, for sure. In Reese’s case it was a tendency toward OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) where her safety was concerned. Her new habits involved things like leaving the lights on and triple checking the doors were locked when she left her place, and at night.

She had some other peculiarities that some people might find hard to accept, or annoying to put up with. In true Nora Roberts’ style the man she meets is very supportive, and handles the whole situation with humour, acceptance and understanding. A truly fictional situation I’m afraid.

I’m sure we all have friends or family with some foibles or quirks, some are just easier to live with than others. But who wants to be perfect?

I’d rather have quirks, it makes life more interesting. But foibles is so much more fun to say.



No comments: