This morning, actually every morning, I take three dogs for a walk in the undeveloped area of our gated community. This morning the boys and I all stepped on a manhole cover and my interest in oxymora rose because this was a sewer cover that had the company name or product name of Sanitary Sewer emblazoned boldly in the metal lid. Sanitary is not a word I would ever connect with sewerage. Whenever any two words are an apparent contradiction they are oxymora. Sanitary sewer fits this bill. Not only does this lid cover the dreadful, filthy sewer pipes and system underground, even the lid was scratched, scrapped, and now had muddy paw prints. Nothing sanitary about this lid.
However, my interest in oxymora peaked as we walked along. I immediately realized I was executing an oxymoron, leading from behind. How can someone lead from behind? That makes no sense as you have to be in front to lead. I am an inept, at times, alpha human to one of these dogs, the 74 pound big guy. The little guys respect my leash leading from behind with them strutting in front. The big guy thinks he is leading us all and that can require some tugs on his leash to rein him in occasionally. Regardless of my status, this oxymoron leads me to talk to the dogs about other word contradictions. If you are a pet owner, you know that dogs love you to talk with them about anything as long as they do not hear their least favorite words, bad dog, uttered.
Paradoxes. I began to self-chat about oxymora being contradictions as they have opposite or polar differences in meanings. They can make me clearly confused. So, the boys and I walked and I talked about some examples that popped to mind which are recited here in random order. I remember telling them that they were awfully handsome this morning. None showed any idea of understanding the contradictions of awful and handsome. They would not have bulked even if I had muttered that they were pretty ugly, which they absolutely are not. Two of the boys have only one eye and one is almost blind in that solitary eye. The blindest of the two would not appreciate blind eye comments and age remarks such as in dog-to-human years he might be about 80 years young.
Being in this undeveloped area does require some attention to our surroundings. We actively stand occasionally to ensure there are no bicyclists about to speed by and no alligators crossing to the various ponds. We do not want to encounter any alligators and I never want my body to have anything like alligator skin. No way! We also listen to the sounds of silence, sometimes almost an early morn deafening silence, chirping birds, and we take time to feel the Florida calm breezes.
I am learning some about chemistry and have encountered some paradoxes that I shared with the boys such as freezer burn, liquid gas, and that there are still billions of compounds to be discovered so new ones are not simply impossible. In my kitchen lab I have paper tablecloths, paper towels, plastic silverware, steel wool and loosely sealed containers, but no chemistry lab beakers and funnels. Oh, and I love to read science fiction. Atoms are my favorite and they are astronomically small. From my kitchen I can even watch AMC’s The Walking Dead series on television. I should buy some brand-labeled Oxymoron wine next time I am at the store.
Back at home now and the dogs have had their treats so I started this article and realized one of my very favorite movies is True Lies, lots of action and contradictions from the title to the film’s end. And, did you see Urban Cowboy? My mind buzzed to a mental listing including white chocolate, open secrets, paid volunteers, plastic glasses (at least they only bounce), bad luck, non-alcoholic beer, hot chili sauce, and old news.
These typically side-by-side words are accepted as normal to me most of the time. The Greek origin of the word oxymoron is a contrast in itself, meaning sharp and dull.
Never again will I likely write about oxymora, but I am stunned at how common they are in my American world. Most of them are fairly obvious. I have added up the oxymora in my article and found 36. How many did you find?
We walk again tomorrow. Wonder what will hit my fancy then?