Today’s word is mulomedic.
It’s one of four endangered words I adopted today from the Oxford English Dictionary’s Save the Words.
An adjective, it means relating to the medical care of mules.
Example: Mary wants to be a mulomedic veterinarian, but her mother says Basset hounds are where the money is.
When I adopted my words, I promised to use them “in conversation and correspondence, as frequently as possible to the very best of my ability.”
Goodness knows how I’ll work mulomedic into the conversation. William and Ernest are going to the vet’s for their vaccinations next week; perhaps I can use it there.
“Dr. Smith, are you a mulomedic veterinarian, or do you limit your practice to cats?”
But I didn’t choose the word to make life easy. I chose it because I like mules. They’re good folks.
The guides at the Grand Canyon lavish praise on the mules that carry tourists on the mile-long ride almost straight down to the canyon floor. No rider has ever toppled into the canyon, they say, because the riders practically glue themselves to the mules, and the mules don’t fall.
A white mule played a pivotal role in my life. Telling the story requires a detour to Tuna, the third smallest town in Texas, located somewhere “between San Angelo and Hell, ” “where the Lion’s Club is too liberal and Patsy Cline never dies.”
In a scene from A Tuna Christmas, Stanley Bumiller and his mother’s aunt, Pearl Burrus, are on stage together. Stanley’s community service at the Tuna Little Theater has been threatened by city secretary Dixie Deberry, who has threatened to turn off the electricity because the theater hasn’t paid its bill. Pearl is concerned about Stanley’s possible return to incarceration as well as about the Christmas Phantom who’s sabotaging the yard decoration contest. In the middle of their talk, Pearl grows solemn. The next lines go something like this:
Pearl: Stanley, I’m worried. I had a dream the other night. Dreamed about a white mule.
Stanley: Hell, Pearl, a white mule’s death, ain’t it?
Pearl: No. A white horse is death. A white mule’s generally nothing worse than car trouble.
Now back to me.
About fifteen years ago, I was at a low point. I’d been there for a number of years. Although things looked as if they would smooth out, I was still living under a cloud.
One morning, driving up Texas Highway 80 toward San Marcos, I saw a large animal loping toward me in the borrow ditch on the opposite side of the road. Afraid it would stray into my path, I stepped on the brake and turned on my hazard lights as a warning to other vehicles.
I had assumed the animal was a horse, but as we neared each other, I saw it was a white mule.
And the moment I recognized him, I said to myself, “Hallelujah, it’s nothing worse than car trouble.”
Then I laughed all the way to San Marcos.
That is a true story, and another instance of how great literature affords solace in times of distress.
My other adopted words are gnathonize, aquabib, and leeftail. For definitions, click on the link to Endangered and Underused Words, on the left sidebar.
Those not already initiated into the joys of the Tuna trilogy–Greater Tuna; A Tuna Christmas; and Red, White and Tuna–are encouraged to find more information at http://greatertuna.com/index.cfm. The row of icons across the bottom of that page is key to getting around the site.
A friend says the audiences at these shows are sitting there laughing at people on stage who are laughing at them. That, too, is true.
A Tuna Christmas is playing at the Paramount in Austin through this Sunday. I wanted to go, but I’ve seen it five or six or eight times, and I’ve memorized most of the dialogue, so I didn’t think I could justify another trip. Next year, however…