The Word Game


Ah yes, the word game in the Corps of Cadets. A complex game it is, but you learn it fast. Or suffer the wrath of the upperclassmen. And the worst is that you are not punished for your own mistakes as much as your buddies are. They suffer for your mistakes. Anyway, the game works like this. As a freshman, you can't know sophomore, junior, or senior words, but you can "pull out" a sophomore word at a football game (when the atmosphere is one of "good bull"). As a sophomore, you can "pull out" junior words in the appropriate setting , and juniors can "pull out" senior words. The trick is that there are only a couple of sophomore and junior words, even with derivatives, but there are gobs of senior words. In short, seniors are called "zips" and are considered to be "dying" as at the end of the year, they will be of no further use to the student body. They are also known as "elephants". The number of words we can't say derived from these three relatively simple facts is enormous. We can't say, dead, dying, grave, knife, tomb, zip, zipper (its a corrugated metal fastener), elephant, tree (because it has a trunk we have to call it a vertical bush), corpse, ghost, zombie, skeleton, bone, gun, cannon, or any other instrument of killing. And any other item that can be linked into the concept of death or dying is out. So there we are, at the game against the University of Houston. And Darren Lewis, star aggie running back, gets the ball knocked loose from his grasp by the ground as he is tackled and the cougar defenders jump on the ball. Now, the ground cannot cause a fumble, and I knew this well. The refs were discussing it, and I was caught up in the heat of the moment, jumped to my feet, and yelled out at the top of my lungs, "The Ball was DEAD!!!!!!" Which it was. Then I realized what I had inadvertently said. All of the seniors in the front were looking back for the Junior who had been so bold as to "pull out" saying "dead" so openly. They see fish Hay looking mortified. Just then, Mr. Glover, a sophomore trumpet player, turns to me and says, "fish Hay, did you just say the ball was down?" Now I knew the alumni knew I said the ball was dead, so I answered, "No, Sir." So he said, "So you said the ball was inert (he couldn't say "dead" either)?". "Yes, Sir." I admitted. "Come by", was all he said, and it was a blow. "Come by" did not mean "come by and have tea". It meant "come by my room with at least one buddy, and be prepared to do pushups until I am sick of watching you do them". So I paid. You screw up, you pay up. That was the mantra of the Aggie Band.


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Copyright © Richard Hay 1998