Monday, June 15, 2009


So here’s another of those wonderful words that come to me from Disport. I am sure I have read this word many times and understood it within the context of what was written. But when it popped up on the screen and took me by surprise, I drew a blank.

But after reading its meaning, I fell in love with the word. Nevertheless, I feel fairly down in the mouth because I think my disporting days are over.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned to you in the past that my mother continually cautioned my sister and me not to make a scene, and in doing so she took away any spontaneity we might have seen develop into a bit of disporting. My father exemplified a classic old-line Presbyterian hard-work ethic and Mother was pretty much bound by the bonds of New England prudery, and I’m sorry to say that the acorns didn’t fall far from the oak trees. There were no disporting teenagers in our house. We pretty much moused our way into adulthood, all three of us.

Now I do need to make a confession here: since I was the oldest, I was mainly out of the house when my sister and brother were going through their teen angst period, so I really shouldn’t speak for them. But I do know that there was no Haight-Ashbury-Woodstock-flower children in the Dobbins household, or whatever it was that children of our generation had in place of the above. The nearest I came to causing a ruckus was when at age 19 I discovered Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Essay on Self Reliance” and it turned me into someone else for that summer between my freshman and sophomore year at college. I carried my American Lit book around all summer long and whenever my mouth opened, words from Emerson’s essay spewed forth. Now this action wasn’t disportment, but it certainly caused my mother to roll her eyes and hope that “this too will pass.” In September of that year I went back to college and became my old plain self again.

The nearest I ever came to really disporting was that time in between my marriages, after a divorce had knocked the bejabbers out of me. After nine months of pitying myself, I met a younger fellow who made me laugh at his outrageous behavior and I must admit that during those few months I was dating him I loosened up a bit. I think some things that I did then I would now classify as disporting, but in doing so I really saw what life was like when one was not afraid to be spontaneous. I’d have to say that my disporting period also corresponded with my crapulous period, so it was not entirely a healthy way to live. But I passed though that just as I did my Emerson period and have lived my fairly ordinary, controlled but happy life since.

The dictionary gives these synonyms for disport: cavort, frolic, gambol, romp, carouse; tomfoolery, merrymaking, skylarking, escapade, diversion. Oh gosh, these words all sound like so much fun!

So when Dictionary. com gave me “Disport” as its word, why then did I become down in the mouth?

I turn 74 this month and my stiff, creaking bones tell me every morning when I wake up that I am now too old to disport, that the time has passed. To have lived almost my whole life with no skylarking or gamboling, no romping or “diversion” is a sad thing to accept. I really never intended to get so old so fast, and I always thought that one of these days I might have a little escapade or “diversion.” But alas, the bones tell it like it is!

So the moral of the story is: if you want to disport, do it while your bones will still let you. I really think a little of it might be fun. But do avoid being “crapulous” if you can help it.

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