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Yesterday, perfectly procrastinating my true “writing I get paid to write”, I perused through some news and found an article about Tori Spelling and Dean McDermmott. I’m neither a fan nor a follower, and truly, I don’t care. In the sense of kindness for humans, I hope it works out however it’s supposed to, and I hope in the end, all are able to be whole again, even if it’s not with each other. As I read the piece, though, a word stuck with me. The following passage, an exchange between Spelling and McDermmott in a counseling session for their new reality TV series (I HATE reality television!) is what kickstarted it in my head:

“I’m really mad,” she says. “I can never give him enough sex. He’s never going to be happy with just me.”

Upon hearing this McDermott leans over and asks, “You don’t think you deserve me?” before consoling her.

At first, I thought, “How arrogant is HE asking her if she doesn’t think she deserves him?” It stuck in my head like a loop of a song that won’t go away right before I’m about to go to sleep. Then I realized perhaps I was misinterpreting the word based on its context.

So I looked up deserve in one of my favorite online dictionaries: The Etymology Online Dictionary. A brief side note in case “etymology” is unfamiliar:

et·y·mol·o·gy noun e-tə-mä-lə-jē: an explanation of where a word came from; the history of a word

Back to what started this little sidetrack of a journey for me: I looked up the word “deserve” on Etymonline.com:

deserve (v.) early 13c., from Old French deservir (Modern French “deserve, be worthy of, earn, merit,” from Latin deservire “serve well,” from de-“completely” “to serve” From “be entitled to because of good service” (a sense found in Late Latin), meaning generalized c.1300 to “be worthy of.” Related: Deserved; deserving.

This confirmed for me what I believe to be the meaning of the word deserve. I’m still unclear if McDermmott used the word in the proper context. Perhaps I just don’t hear it written as much in that way. Instead I’ve seen it written more as, “You don’t think you’re worthy enough for me?” or “You don’t think you’re worthy of me?” or “You think I’m not deserving of you?”

This may seem silly and a bit trivial, but there are countless times in my life where either inside my head or out loud, I’ve repeated a word over and over, listening to how it sounds, with proper and improper inflection, felt how each syllable, each sound, each letter rolled off my tongue. I still do this.

So it was the word “deserve” this time. “Deserve”: Dee-ZERV? Dee-SERV? DEE-zerv? DEE-serv? Dee. Dee. Zerv. Serv. One little word, yet so much time spent on playing with it in my mind. I wonder why. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always loved language, how it develops and evolves. I love the way people used to speak to each other, back in the time of Queen Elizabeth, for example. It was oppressively sexy, flirty, proper, courteous, respectful, filled with innuendo and mystery. Words, depending upon the inflection and facial expression, had meaning, depth, and the promise of so much more that only those speaking and listening understood, as if it was a secret between only them.

That is why I fall in love with language over and over again. And I’m reminded once more of one of my favorite sentences in all of the written word I’ve ever had the luxury and pleasure of reading:

“Words are in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” ~Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling

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