You know these people. They’re cursed with the need to learn jargon and share it with everyone. I call them “jargonauts.” I’m sure they wouldn’t mind having their own special term.

Bowling with Lord Jargonaut

He bowls, watches the ball. Waits. Then, “Damn!”
“What’s wrong? The ball went all the way to the end and knocked some of those things over. Isn’t that good?”
“Yeah if you’re on the maples’ side.” He shakes his head. “Terrible leave.”
“I was hoping for a schleifer not a sour apple.”
“Are you okay?”
He grumpily adjusts his brand new Wrist Master 5000 bowling glove. “Split happens.”

Kite-flying with Lady Jargonaut

She puts her finger in her mouth then points the wet finger in the air.
You ask, “What are you doing?”
“Good wind today,” she says. “I’m thinking it’s a Beaufort number 6. Maybe 7. We’re talkin’ 30 knots.”
“What’s knots?”
“Here’s the plan,” she says. “I’ll belly launch and see if I can’t yaw my way through the wind window. Then I’ll spin stall, pancake, snap stall, and finish with a wing-tip stand. Then maybe get some soul flying in. What about you?”
“I’m just going to hold this string and see if the triangle stays floating.”

Taxidermy with Lord Jargonaut

“Check this out. I got dermoplasty-nasty then did some jawset work. After that it was all ear-liner time. Next, I degreased the crap out of her, literally.” He smiles with satisfaction. “Lastly I shellacked the mâché and did a little tucking jobby around the eyes. What do you think?”
“I didn’t even know your cat was sick.”

Sometimes jargonauts pay for their crimes. This happened at a church picnic I attended once.

Our church had a jargonaut. Her name was Peggy. She got started that day by teaching us about trees, the ones surrounding the field.

“We’re looking at hemlock and ash,” she said, “and that right there is a hop-hornbeam.” She hopped a little when she said it, just to be charming.

“This grass is called perennial rye. I also noticed some Kentucky blue. Guess how many grass species there are in the world?” Instead of giving us time to guess, she screamed, “10,000!”

“The word ‘picnic’ is from the French, ‘pique-nique.’ It means, literally, to pick at something that’s easy. And what’s easier than making sandwiches?!”

She gave the history of sandwiches.

Game-time. She told us where to stand, how to rotate, what parts of the arms and hands to use for bump passes, blocks, and beach digs.

“What’s a beach dig?” someone asked.
“It’s also called a ‘deep dish,’” she explained.
“Someone say pizza?” someone said. People laughed.
Peggy glared. “No.”

After briefly spelling out the history of pizza, Peggy showed us how to beach dig the ball, which I think means slapping it across the face.

The game began. She shouted orders at her team.

“Close the block!” and “Down ball! Down ball!” Also, “Kill! Kill! Kill!”

Her husband, Greg (nickname: Greggy) was on her team. He received the brunt of her command.

“Free ball, Greggy!” she warned him, then lovingly encouraged him, “Bump! Bump!”

Greggy bump-bumped.

“Back row attack…approach!”

Greggy approached, jumped up, and gently tapped the ball over the net. It was a soft tap, almost a caress.

“Nice dink, Greggy! Beautiful dink! Gorgeous!”

The players smiled, covered their mouths, made wide eyes at each other.

Peggy served then shouted, “Now joust!”

Greggy jousted.

“Penetration!” Peggy exclaimed. “Penetration!”

A few people gasped, laughed nervously, turned away so they could laugh hard. Mrs. Ainsworth, the organist, put one hand over her heart.

I couldn’t believe Peggy said it. The best part was, she kept saying it, couldn’t stop. After all, there’s no other word in volleyball for putting your hand over the net when you block. Peggy was trapped.

“Power tip, Greggy! Yes! Yes!” she crooned.

Again Greggy rose to the occasion and caressed the ball over the net.

“Amazing dink!” Peggy was breathless with admiration. “Marvelous dink, Greggy.”

A few teenagers sitting in the shade of the hop-hornbeam were hopping with laughter. Most of the players on both sides of the net had red faces, probably from the heat of the day, and the exertion, and all the sex.

A poverty-stricken, soft Batman by night. Illustrator and writing teacher by day. Previously: McSweeney’s, Slackjaw. Drawings: