razzle-dazzle.

[razuh l-dazuh l]

noun, Informal.

  1. showiness, brilliance, or virtuosity in technique or effect, often without concomitant substance or worth; flashy theatricality.

Customer service. Sometimes you’re just not in the mood to smile and to wait on people and to get one more side of sour cream. Sour moods are hard to sweeten.

I needed a night off. I needed a night to sit by the fire with Pal and Taylor Swift’s new CD and a bottle of dark dark dark red wine. But I had one more night of work to get through. I walked in with one goal in mind: to get out early.

Then I approached my first table. I couldn’t even get through my semi-robotic introduction before a ten-year-old blonde blonde blonde little girl spurted out, “It’s my BIRTHDAY! My dad let me pick where to go. I picked McDonald’s! Then he said ‘dream bigger!’ Please tell me you have trout because that’s why I chose to come here for my birthday.”

The sourness dissipated quickly. When I told her trout was our one special for the evening, she threw her hands in the air like she was doing a cheer. “I knew it. I just KNEW IT! Happy Birthday to me!!!”

After she thoroughly enjoyed her fresh Idaho rainbow trout, I brought a birthday mud pie. I uncomfortably sang the entire birthday song even though I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

Then when I was picking up another table’s food at the grill, she walked by to use the restroom. She said, “Thanks for the mud pie! I sure wish everyone else sang, too!”

I grabbed a new candle and the lighter and walked over to the other tables in the back room and asked them to help me sing to the precious gal. It was the most razzle-dazzle version of “Happy Birthday” you’ve ever heard. She beamed. She crawled under the table, hugged me so hard that I gasped and she breathlessly said, “Thank you for encouraging that! I’m tipping you $1,000,000 in air tip! I want you to be our server every year forever!”

Okay, customer service, tonight you win. I’m depositing that air tip first thing tomorrow.

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ameliorate.

[uhmeel-yuh-reyt, uhmee-lee-uh-]
1. to make or become better, more bearable, or more satisfactory; improve.
Sometimes I wake up on the wrong side of the bed. My bed is against the wall, so maybe I should pull it out a little so I have a better chance of choosing the right side.
Pal woke me up before I was ready and he was unusually energetic. I was usually unenergetic. The coffee creamer I bought the day before was already clumpy which is really enough to piss somebody off. I sat on the couch and stared off into space for way too long, thinking it might not end up being the best day of my life.
We started our walk to the bookstore and I don’t know if it was because Pal had a bath the day before or what, but every single person who walked or rode past us had a nice comment to make.
My day was becoming slightly ameliorated.
“Whoa! He’s beautiful. Really beautiful!”
“You’ve done such a great job with him, you know.”
“What is he? He’s amazing and so huge.”
But the best was a little girl around the age of eight or nine. She had a huge backpack on and a teal hat with her blonde braided hair sticking out all over the place.
“By the way…I LOVE your dog,” she said as she put her hands slightly in the air and let them slap down on her legs.
“Why thank you. By the way, he seems to love you, too,” I said. She beamed and then walked up to the bookstore and tried the locked door.
“Oh, I’m opening it up in just a second!”
She squealed. “I just KNEW that was the bookstore dog. I just KNEW IT!!”
Ameliorated.
She was here before opening time because the owner told her a Zelda book was arriving on Wednesday. I’m sure her backpack was full of books and journals and I like this little girl so much. The book should be arriving later today and I asked if she wanted to leave her phone number and I could call when it comes in. She gave me a look like “I’m eight, I don’t have a phone” but politely said, “I’ll come back in!”
Her name is Ridley and she found a signed Ridley Pearson book and we gawked at it and now that I’m thinking about it, I wish I would have bought it for her. But she got out a beat up envelope full of money and happily paid.
Then she sat on the ground next to Pal and gave him loving for at least twenty minutes. I introduced her to other customers as my assistant and she giggled. I miss her and I know Pal does, too.

estival.

[es-tuh-vuh l, e-stahy-vuh l]

adjective

  1. pertaining or appropriate to summer.

Last night, I got off work at the saloon at 9:30pm. I said goodnight to my friends who would be there for a couple more hours, put my jacket on, and stepped outside. The sun was just setting and for the first time in what felt like years (ten months realistically), I didn’t need my jacket. Ten months!!! I’ve become very attached to my jacket. This winter, I wore two or three of them at a time, but my lightweight Arc’Teryx has been a staple and has become part of me. Sometimes I lounge around in my living room with it on. But last night, I took it off as quickly as I could and smiled the whole way to my car. The days have been warm lately, but not the nights.

I pulled in to my little cabin cluster parking lot and four boys around the age of ten were playing wiffle ball in the front yard. This was the epitome of an estival evening. I opened my windows as high as they would go. I kept my door open. I texted my friend, “It’s warm enough for boys to be playing wiffle ball!! I might go join them.” I sat in my rocking chair and listened to their Sandlot-like lingo as if it were the sweetest sound on earth. And it was; it sounded like summer.

Pal and I have changed up our normal hiking trails to get some shade in. This was our shade tree yesterday, his drool hitting my shoulder as I read my book.

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Is there anything better than finding an amazing book in time for summer? A really, really good book doesn’t stay new looking for long. I love when the cover is a little bent from being transported from satchel to backpack to work locker. A few dirt stains show up. Definitely some of Pal’s drool which ends up glistening like a disgusting glitter. Blood from a tiny bug that I try to shoo away from the sentence I am reading. A good book goes with me everywhere and it makes everywhere a little bit better. Long line at the Post Office? Awesome. Can’t sleep at 1am? Perfect. I find myself nodding along and feeling understood and am completely thrilled and energized by it. In fact, this author (Brendan Leonard) writes in such a way that I understand myself even more. It becomes a very important part of my life, and I find myself bringing it up in everyday conversation. “Beth, are you going to order dinner before your shift?” “Oh, no I had a late lunch while I was reading this incredible book which I will now tell you all about…”

A short estival hike becomes an entire morning and afternoon of reading and laughing and looking up to watch Pal eat a stick or dig a hole.

Season changes…I tell you what. They’re invigorating and I didn’t know my soul needed them as desperately as it does. Last year I said with each season, it’s like moving to a new place without having to rent a U-Haul or make new friends. I LOVE SUMMER and after this extreme winter, I have earned every little beam of sunshine and wildflower and jacket-free night.

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humblebrag.

[huhm-buh l-brag]

noun

  1. a statement intended as a boast or brag but disguised by a humble apology, complaint, etc.

It’s so funny that this was just the word of the day. I was too tired to blog about humblebrag, because I was completely worn out from running ten miles in the 62 mile Sawtooth Relay through rain, snow, sleet, and hail.

I’m cracking myself up because I can’t even humblebrag about the race. Or maybe this is just a really humble humblebrag. I had to walk a little bit during both of my five mile legs. I think I went slower because of the nine roasted marshmallows and two s’mores from the night before. We had fun though, kind of. We woke up at 3am after a night listening to the rain pound our tents. Intense. The rain and snow continued and I never saw the Sawtooth mountains. When I said I would do this relay, I pictured the sun rising and hitting the dramatic Sawtooths in an overwhelming way. I imagined it being this epic feeling of, “you are running ten miles today in the most beautiful place in the world.” Instead, many times, I thought, I paid to do this. Who in their right mind pays to do this??

Runners passed me often while saying, “Good job!” and probably then mumbled, “but I’m doing so much better.”

My thumb kept going numb because of the cold and I tried to run with my hands in my jacket pockets which looks completely ridiculous. I choked on my own spit at one point and coughed for the next few miles.

But to be honest, as I was giving high fives to my teammates after my first five miles, I was elated.

“How do you feel?!” they asked.

“Like I want to go to Disney Land! But instead of have to run five more miles.”

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The girls that made up team “Buns of Glory” were awesome and after a couple beers and fifty French fries, I’m afraid I told them I would do it again next year. Ooops.

vim.

[vim]

noun

1. lively or energetic spirit; enthusiasm; vitality.

If you are a Beth of Fresh Air follower (hi, Grandma!), you know that I’ve been trying harder to DO more instead of watching more, attempting to live a life worthy of writing about.

About two months ago, a bartender whom I adore was out with his wife and this is rare so we had a couple drinks to celebrate. The evening turned to one full of vim very quickly. We were the obnoxious group in the corner but it didn’t matter enough to feel the need to quiet down. Sometimes the vim mustn’t be tamed. Bartender’s lovely wife mentioned the Sawtooth Relay race that she’s doing in June. Six runners, sixty miles, all the way from Stanley to Ketchum.

“I’m afraid our sixth will drop out and we won’t be able to do it!”

I took a sip of my Moscow Mule, held it up in the air for some reason, and said, “Oh if she drops out, I’ll do it.”

“Really?” asked the runner.

“Really?!” asked my friend who knows I’m absolutely not a runner.

“Well, if you are in dire need, sure, I will learn how to run,” I said.

A week and a half went by and I totally forgot about the interaction.

Then…a text came through that simply stated, “You’re in! She dropped out!”

I stared into space for a long while. Ten miles. Five miles twice. Here we go, New Beth, this is different, you can write about this, you dummy. So Pal and I started running. He stops when he’s had enough which is usually a quarter mile, so I started going to the YMCA most weekdays at 2pm to watch Ellen. Because she’s full of vim, it’s easier to match her liveliness and run longer while I laugh like a loon.

The race is now four days away. Am I excited about it? Absolutely not. It’s going to hurt. Will the camping in Stanley and the camaraderie and the fries and beer after be incredible? Oh yeah. Do I plan on wearing the shirt on most days even if it’s not that cute? Oh yeah.

puffery.

[puhfuh-ree]

noun, plural pufferies.

1. undue or exaggerated praise.

2. publicity, acclaim, etc., that is full of undue or exaggerated praise.

Oh if anyone gets puffers a plenty, it’s the polar bear, Pal! He sits behind the register at the bookstore and people pour out the puffery with their words and their cuddles and their oooh’s and ahhh’s and Pal acts as if it’s the most natural thing in the world, because he’s always been handsome and loving and not at all humble.

Some ask, “Do you know how handsome you are?” And he winks as if to say, “Ooh yes, yes I do, thank you.” He’s like the Robert Downey, Jr. of dogs. It’s a confidence that is very attractive so then he’s even more attractive and the pufferies continue and his chest puffs up and he demands belly rubs. 

forgettery.

[fer-getuh-ree]

noun

1. a faculty or facility for forgetting; faulty memory.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have power over our forgettery? I’d choose to forget the feeling of Pal’s poop hitting my foot this morning because of a faulty bag. I’d like to forget the demeaning tone that some people use to speak to those in the service industry. I’d choose to not think about when I fell between two tables in my tiny cowgirl skirt when I tried to pick up a lady’s napkin. Actually, that turned out to be a good story so I’d keep that one.

But we don’t have his forgettery power. Instead, negative and frustrating things stick with us much like the scent of dog shit on a leather sandal.

Here you'll find whimsical wonderments on dictionary.com's word of the day about traveling around the US and NZ, help exchange, meeting fascinating people, and now, my handsome polar bear, Pal.

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