Day 10: Whiffler

Word of the Day:

whiffler

noun

  1. a person who frequently shifts opinions attitudes, interests, etc.
  2. a person who is vacillating or evasive in an argument.

Alright.  Let’s do this:

To observe him was to instantly know him—or, at least, three things about him:  He could stand to eat less; he was not nearly as caffeinated as he ought to have been; and he was a first rate, decorated, Olympic-grade whiffler.  If it were to be said that whiffling is an art form, this gentleman’s first instinct would be to furtively agree, although he would hesitate to declare anything resembling a fact.  Days later, he would then seek out whoever had proclaimed this to tell him or her his final opinion on the statement, which would be that he had not come to any definitive conclusion because it was much too hard.

This talented gentleman was known as Mr. Mulligan (though perhaps it might be better to call him Seamus).  Unfortunately for the general population, he was employed as a lawyer, although his greatest desire was (possibly, but perhaps not) to teach ethics.

Currently, he was in a book store, discussing the merits of a particular novella with the unfortunate young man at the counter.

“Have you read this book?” asked Mr. Mulligan/Seamus.

“I have!” said the young man brightly.  “It was excellent.  I highly recommend it.”

Mr. Mulligan/Seamus nodded slowly.  “I read it many years ago, I think,” he said.

“Oh?” said the young man.  “Did you enjoy it?”

Mr. Mulligan/Seamus sighed a heavy, asthmatic sigh.  “Maybe,” he said.  “I rather thought I hated it when I was younger, but time does give one perspective, and I rather wonder what ‘enjoyment’ and ‘hatred’ really are, what they really mean.”

The young man rather suspected that this conversation was going in a direction of which he strongly disapproved.  He swallowed down his dread, pasted a glowing smile on his face, and nodded encouragingly.  “Perhaps you ought to try again, then, sir?” he suggested.

Mr. Mulligan/Seamus considered this.  “Perhaps,” he said.  “But should I pay for a book that I think I may have hated, even though I don’t know what hatred is, and may now enjoy, even though I don’t know what enjoyment is, and which comes so highly recommended to me by a total stranger whose taste may be very different from mine, if we can even define ‘taste’ at all.”

The young man blinked.  Blinked again.  Drew a breath, then realized he still hadn’t formulated a response.  Mr. Mulligan had worked his magic yet again:  His audience was completely baffled.

“Perhaps you could try the library, then?” the young man suggested hesitantly.

“Perhaps,” said Mr. Mulligan.  He sighed and leaned against the counter, thoughtfully gazing over the young man’s head.  “Perhaps…”

Cara Kennaway

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6 thoughts on “Day 10: Whiffler

  1. “Change your style, change your name, change the way you cook your eggs, but never be a whiffler when it comes to love,” Grandma used to say.

    Throughout the years of my childhood and adolescence, I had a variety of different responses of varying levels of archness, but I always made sure to switch them out as soon as they started to sound as cliche as the saying which inspired them. “What’s a whiffler?” only lasted until I’d grasped the definition. “So what if I love the way I cook my eggs?” was my first attempt at a comeback and was employed proudly until I was ten. “I’m never going to change my name” was, regrettably, repeated all the way through puberty.

    I was always so busy responding I don’t think I ever paused to consider Grandma’s words properly. What did she mean by that, really? What was her motivation in repeating it to me a few hundred times, even when I clearly wasn’t heeding her? What grand life lesson might she have learned the hard way, and now be hoping to teach me the easy way?

    All these thoughts pass through my head as I watch Sarah walk away, already regretting every word I said and wondering what I could’ve done differently. Love came like a summer breeze in winter, and I guess I whiffled up a storm.

    Grandma, if you’re looking down, I sure hope you can forgive me. ‘Cause I don’t know if I’ll be able to forgive myself.

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