I saw a butterfly flutter by the other day.
I’m not sure if it was out a bit early in the year, but seeing it made me wonder why such a beautiful creature would be named after a nasty one and a form of dairy product. So why butterfly?
Turns out it’s a very old word, and theories of its origin include the insects consuming butter or milk left uncovered, being most visible in the springtime when butter churning was going on or simply because the pale yellow color of many butterflies’ wings is similar to that of butter.
Whatever the case, when one flutters by, I will more appreciate its appearance than be concerned with butter.
Not that it matters, but lots of well-known people go by just one name, and most other people don’t know their whole names.
There are many examples of that in the music world. Cher was born Cherilyn Sarkisian and Bono is really Paul David Hewson.
Sting is Gordon Sumner (Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, to be exact) and Adele is Adele Adkins (or Adele Laurie Blue Adkins in its entirety).
Of course, there’s Madonna, who is of Italian descent and was born Madonna Louise Ciccone, and multiple contestants on Season 18 of The Voice (which is going on now), including Chelle, Jules and CammWess.
Plenty of examples can be found elsewhere, too, like the most famous soccer player ever, Pele, whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, and actor/comedian Sinbad, who was originally David Adkins.
Oh, and for the record, Dr. Phil’s last name is McGraw.
Like I said, not that it matters.
RHETORIC IS ALL AROUND
Having an odd sense of humor, I like hearing really good rhetoric.
I mean rhetoric in its best-known form, because the word is one of many in the English language that has multiple, opposing meanings.
The kind I’m referring to is described in the word’s first definition listed by Dictionary.com: “In writing or speech, the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast.” Other definitions less commonly associated with rhetoric include “the ability to use language effectively, the study of the effective use of language and even the art of making persuasive speeches; oratory.”
The rhetoric that most captures my attention (and tickles my funny bone) is the kind containing promises, proclamations or threats.
One virtually continuous source of juicy, ominous, but obviously rhetorical threats is North Korea, its capital city of Pyongyang and its supreme dunderhead (I mean leader) Jimmy John Nutcase (I mean, Kim Jong-un).
Pyongyang recently warned that its military personnel are “holding tightly the arms to annihilate the enemies with towering hatred for them” and “are waiting for the dignified Supreme Command to issue an order to launch a preemptive strike of justice.”
Ooh, doesn’t that make you shudder and want to hunker down in your underground shelter, load your .38 special and .243 and heat up some freeze-dried scrambled eggs and potato flakes?
Actually, I think Kimmy’s personnel might be holding tight mostly to guns that jam when their triggers are pulled and any missiles launched by he and his henchmen/slaves might not make it very far past the walk-in closet that houses his collection of 50,000 DVDs before falling into the North Pacific.
Also right now, there is certainly no shortage of rhetorical promises and proclamations being thrown about thanks to the heavily political nature of 2020 in the U.S.
Yep, it’s time for “everyone to come together” because “together, we can make a difference.”
It’s also time we “keep America great” and “take back our country.”
Yep, it’s good to know that everything will become hunky-dory once we all “come together, right now, over you” (I guess John Lennon knew what the heck that meant, but I sure don’t).
Of course, a buttery fly might flutter by, too.
You know, sometimes I feel like I really would like to take back our country. Kind of like when my wife takes back a half-gallon of milk that’s bad right off the shelf.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.