carboy, demijohn, delope

The Words, Wines, and Whatever tasting event was drawing to a close, and Maury’s aunt Susan, eloped from her nursing home, was feeling delightful. “Maury!” she said, throwing her arm around her nephew. “My glass is empty. The bottle is empty. Fetch me a carboy.” She tittered as she titubated.

“Fetch you a car?” Maury said. “Shall I call you a cab?”

“No, you silly thing, call me your aunt. I didn’t say I wanted a car, boy. I’ve had more than enough cars and boys and boys in cars in my life. I said I wanted a carboy.” She giggled again. “A large glass jug.”

Maury sighed. “I feel you need to be contained.”

“I’d take a demijohn. Though a demijohn often leads to a full john.” She smiled happily and, looking around, spotted a still-unopened bottle of champagne by the bookshelf. “Maury, my boy. I want to look something up. Let’s repair to the bookcase.”

“What would you like to look up?”

“A Scotsman’s kilt!” She giggled some more. “I want to explore the origins of carboy and demijohn.”

They made their way to the shelf; Susan positioned herself in such a way that the bottle was not obvious to Maury but was within her reach. She pulled out an etymological dictionary. “Funny two words for glass jugs both sound like names for patrons of prostitutes.” She flipped some pages. “Of course, I’m sure those demi-Johns and car boys like nice jugs.” She found her page: “From Persian qaraba, ‘large flagon’. Ay qaraba! A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.”

“A flagon,” Maury said. “I think you’re flaggin’.”

She flipped some more pages. “Now… Is demijohn from Persian too? Or Arabic? Oh, I see: cognates in Persian and Arabic seem to have been borrowed from the French, as our word is: from Dame Jeanne, ‘Lady Joan’, because it looks like a fat lady. This word has had a change of sex!”

“Not one, but two, cases of reanalysis,” I said. “Under the influence of alcohol, quite evidently.”

“Speaking of which…” Susan grabbed the champagne bottle and started to undo the foil.

“The evening is concluding,” Maury protested. “You really must return.”

“I eloped at the beginning of the evening,” Susan said, “and once I have dealt with this small matter I will delope.”

Delope isn’t related to elope, though,” Maury said. “It’s a pistol dueling term; it means ‘fire into the air’.”

“I know,” said Susan. “I’ve read books by Georgette Heyer. One does it when one’s opponent is simply not up to one’s level. And, Maurice, lad, you are not as looped as I. Therefore, I must delope.” Whereupon she popped the champagne cork into the air. It whizzed past Maury’s ear and ricocheted off the ceiling.

Maury took the bottle from her, drank a good draught straight from it, and handed it back. “Time for the genie to go back in the bottle,” he said, and went off to arrange for a taxi.

Thanks to Margaret Gibbs for mentioning delope.

One response to “carboy, demijohn, delope

  1. Pingback: carapacity | Sesquiotica

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