Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Love for You Was Cattywampus

My favorite word, the word I try to work into every novel I write, is cattywampus.

I just love the way it sounds. Kind of like “platypus,” only with more flavor. Plus, it’s harder to work the word platypus into a novel. Don’t ask me how I know, trust me on that one, folks.

Anyway, one day, when I was a young man in high school, my girlfriend, Victoria, picked me up. We were going to go make out in some darkened movie theater in a preplanned suck-face marathon at some bad movie that should had been yanked weeks earlier.

To know Victoria is to know that she was a very smart girl. She had this amazing intellect, a love of books, was the definition of the word feminine. Her hobbies, much to my delight, seemed to consist of playing the clarinet and making out with her boyfriend.

Which was me.

But I digress. We were bee-bopping along, and I noticed that during the last torrential rainstorm, a car had hit a chain link fence, and the fence was leaning over.

“Wow, that fence is all cattywampus,” I said.

At this point Victoria spits Pepsi (yes, Victoria was a Pepsi Girl) all over her blouse and skirt.

“Are you okay?” It was an honest question.



“Cattywampus is not a word!”

Now, I had a moment of doubt. Victoria came from a long line of spelling bee winners. But I was sure cattywampus was a word, one I heard other people use and used before myself. I wasn’t the kind of writer or speaker to make up such a fine, outstanding word, as cattywampus.

“It is a word.”

“Is not.”

“It is!”

“It is not a word!”

“You don’t make up words like cattywampus!” I declare in a huff.

“How is it spelled, then?”

“Cattywampus. C-A-T-T-Y-W-A-M-P-U-S. Cattywampus.”

“How is it used in a sentence?”

“I told you! The fence was all cattywampus!”

“So it means leaning?”

“Kinda of. It means askew, or it could also mean not exactly adjacent to something.”

“Like kitty-corner?”

“No, like between adjacent and kitty-corner.”

“You’re making all this up, Anthony.”

“Am not!”

(Let me tell you, I was really good at adult conversation back then)

Victoria tilted her head at me, and then goes back to looking at the road. She has the biggest grin on her face.

“What?” I had recently learned Victoria had an evil grin.

“You are the cutest boyfriend, ever.”

“The word you are looking for is handsome.

“No, I believe cute will do.

“Stud-ly?” I asked, opening up negotiations.

“Stud-muffin?” she countered.

“Okay, cute it is.”

“I love you,” she said suddenly.

“I love you, too. So you love me because I used the word cattywampus?”

Now the grin threatens to split her face.

“Someday you’ll get it.” She even patted my leg.

At this point, as near as I can recall, I was confused.

But wow, was she a great kisser.

And cattywampus is a word.


  1. My favorite word is spritely. I like using it in normal conversation, to which my husband replies "You don't writing like you speak so don't speak the way you write."

  2. all the reasons why i love reading your posts...thanks for reminding me of the joy in words, word play, play...etc, etc.

  3. I love defenestrate and finagle

  4. My friends mom (who has since passed, God bless her) use to say cattywampus all the time. Haha, of course, I never knew how to spell it until now. Thanks for the smile.

  5. My boyfriend and I just had this exact conversation yesterday!!!! LOL Yes it IS a word and NO it is NOT like kitty-corner.

    Thanks for the laugh! Oh this is Katie NOT Russell writing this!

  6. How people think you make up a word like cattywampus is beyond me. Tell Russel to stop arguing with girls. It gets you nowhere.


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