Sunday, April 17, 2011
O is for Oblocutor
Here's to hoping that this one threw you. In a bid to overcome a shutdown at the ideas factory for 'o', I found a site devoted to obscure words.
An oblocutor is one who denies or disputes. I thought it was better to blog on this than on obsolagnium, which is waning sexual desire due to age.
One of my best friends at college was an oblocutor. Had I known the term 20 years ago rather than 20 minutes ago I would have surely accused him of being an oblocutor; it would have made me seem more of a smart ass, which was the whole point of a university education.
That and getting one's liver pickled.
I'll call my close college friend Barry, although it's not his name. Barry had some good qualities but also a few rather unfortunate ones such as being the most oppositional and argumentative man alive.
If you told Barry the dawn was pretty he'd tell you it was ugly. If you happened to tell him it was midnight he'd swear it was midday. Our political disagreements often ended up as unpleasant verbal altercations which was odd considering we had the same left of center leanings in those days.
But the good news was if you lost an argument there was always scope for covert operations. Barry was allergic to fish which meant the nuclear option of nailing a kipper to his door while he was asleep became a tempting prospect. I wasn't alone in covert ops. as Barry had a knack of annoying the other room mates too.
Invariably kipper nights occured on the eve of Barry's desperate attempts to pull girls out of his league. He'd carefully plan the invite on the pretext of a coffee and some help with politics homework over the breakfast table.
These unsuspecting victims would be hesitant to start with. Their feet would turn to ice and they would try to jump out of a third floor window when Barry would show up at the table betroot red and twitching in a kipper induced funk.
Oh the joy of those student days.
Of course my attitude to Barry was rather inconsistent. While his contrariness would drive me crazy, I wasn't particularly well endowered in the friends department, so I'd still hang out with him.
Nevertheless his love of an argument could be off putting. One day a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses came to the flat. Now there's an unwritten rule that when Jehovah's Witnesses show up, you have to firmly tell them to go to hell - although come to think of it that probably wouldn't work because they've showed up at the door to warn us we are all going to hell anyway.
So what does Barry do? He invites them in so as he can flick through Watchtower and take issue with it as well as the whole basis of their religion. He was rushing off to studies, so he invited them back for Round 2 of an ecumenical argument at a later date.
I remember returning from the faculty on my bike to see their heads bobbing around in the window. Then when I showed up the Jehovah's Witnesses were actually trying to extricate themselves from the flat. If I pressed them hard enough they would have begged for a blood transfusion, just to escape from Barry.
Inevitably I ended up going Interrailing around Europe with Barry as well as my sister. Two minutes out of Victoria Station it dawned on me that this was a bad idea when we disagreed on the type of filling for the rolls we should use the communal funds on.
By the time we reached the Loire Valley it was war. We wanted to go to Nimes, Barry wanted to go to Arles; we wanted to take a day train, Barry wanted to take a night train. We wanted to go at a fast pace, Barry wanted to sit at a restaurant and watch the world go by for three hours.
My sister and I constantly out voted Barry but it merely stored up resentment. Half way round Europe we decided to go our separate ways. Barry said our itinery was too demanding and he wanted to chill in the south of France.
But later when we returned to England, we found he's visited all of the same countries we made it to, anyhow.
I lost contact with the Oblocutor General a few years ago when I lost his email address. I sent him an email saying I assumed that was his email address.
I half expected a reply saying of course it wasn't. I miss him in an oppositional kind of way.