I was scanning through the paper, getting caught up on some articles I’d missed, when I stumbled upon Dear Abby’s column. I read it from time to time, to remind myself that there are people out there far more screwed up than I am.
The headline caught my attention immediately:
Girl who lost her boyfriend assuages her grief with sex.
She did what to her grief?
Hmm…I blame my diet, but I’m seeing something about sausage. Then I notice the obvious joke about sausage and sex and move on with a chuckle.
So, I consult two old friends: Merriam and Webster. They’re so old that I don’t even know their first names. They inform me, that the word in question, assuage, means to “lessen the intensity of” something. The headline writer, undoubtedly in possession of some kind of vocabulary-building book he got for Christmas, seems to have forgotten that a newspaper is generally written to a third-to-sixth grade reading level so as not to confuse the masses. Maybe he lost a bet and had to find one of the most obscure words he could come up with.
But it’s the first time I ever had to use a dictionary to get through Dear Abby!