by Anthony Bloor
Words! Words that fall from a dictionary, at random.
And there’s always one that catches the eye, even though you’re not looking for it. Because you have a purpose, and you’re looking for something else. And it’s often the case that the word you’re searching for is possibly rather dull, whereas the word that flies at you is far more interesting, and you’ve never seen it before.
For instance, I’ve been asked to write a story in which the word “blend” appears. So I’m searching for the word “blend”, wanting to check the nuances of its meaning. But the word “blini” leaps at me from the opposite page. I’m compelled — and this is usually the case too — to forget what I’m looking for and read the definition. “Blini” is a Russian word, meaning pancakes made from buckwheat flour and served with sour cream. The word is plural, and there doesn’t seem to be a singular term, so obviously you can’t eat one pancake, you have to eat several.
I wonder if I could find a context for this word, another story, perhaps one in which a young couple, very much in love, settle down in a restaurant for a meal, a dish of blini. It seems logical, if you must eat several, that there must be a couple at least to enjoy the dish. But perhaps the man, or the woman, doesn’t want to eat several. He or she has a dark secret, he’s wondering if he should reveal it now, before they go off to the theatre, and it’s putting him off the meal. Perhaps he’s had an affair, perhaps he’s murdered somebody. Who knows? He’s silent, searching for the right words, how to be diplomatic, how to confess, and he’s not eating at all. She’s concerned, she asks him (in Russian) if anything is wrong. He stares at his plate, prods the blini with a fork, mumbling, stumbling over words.
Finally he says, “I only want one … one, hmm …” And he continues to stumble, because there are no words in Russian for what he wants to say.
Anthony Bloor works as a freelance editor, copywriter and web developer. He is the author of three novels and a scholarly study of fiction writing, published by the Edwin Mellen Press, New York, 2003. Visit him at http://www.simonsiabod.com/ and http://anthonybloor.simonsiabod.com/.