We were seated at a table – Jess Long, Edgar Frick, Marilyn Frack, and I – at the Order of Logogustation’s monthly Words, Wines, and Whatever tasting event. For atmosphere, the lights were dim and the tables were lit with candles.
“This candle’s waning,” observed Edgar.
Marilyn reached over and tilted it a bit. “I think it’s waxing.”
“Like your legs?”
Marilyn set the candle back down. “Are you saying my legs are getting fat?”
“No, no,” Edgar protested. “I mean like you wax your legs.”
“I’ll wax your bum,” Marilyn said, reaching over and giving his leather-clad posterior a whack.
“An interesting and still open question,” Jess said, to divert the conversation, “the matter of whether the verb wax meaning ‘grow’ is at the root of the noun wax. Is it that it is what bees grow, or does that come from another root, meaning ‘weave’?”
“Beats me,” said Marilyn. “I’ve generally minded my own beeswax.”
“Your own bikini wax,” Edgar said.
“Your own Johnson wax,” Marilyn shot back.
“I think,” I interjected, “uh, we’re waxing a bit vulgar here.”
“Why, Johnson wax is floor wax, dear boy,” Edgar said.
“And probably ceiling wax, too,” Marilyn added.
“Fit for ships, and shoes, and cabbages, and kings?” Jess said, with a little smirk.
“You’re getting Carrolled away,” I said.
“I was just trying another angle,” Jess replied.
“Well, wax is a rather angular word,” I said. “In all caps, it’s almost entirely diagonals.”
“Perhaps fitting,” Jess said, “given the way it involves front-and-back coarticulations: the /w/ with the lips rounded and the back of the tongue raised, and then the /ks/ releasing at the back while the tip of the tongue holds in place.”
“More phonemes than graphemes,” I observed.
Marilyn didn’t like the dry turn the conversation was taking. “Front-and-back coarticulations… that sounds like fun,” she purred to Edgar.
“Well, these two sods are about as lively as a wax museum,” Edgar said.
“I think so,” Marilyn said, “I’m talking hot wax, and these drips are writing a wax paper. They don’t know beans about the real wax.”
I said, “Well, I didn’t come here to have a strip peeled off me.”
“Oh,” said Jess, “that’s a whole other ball of wax.” She started whistling “Brazil.”
“Now, that’s waxing lyrical,” Edgar said.
“Or lyrical waxing,” Marilyn added.
“Wax on, you two,” I said.
“Oh,” said Marilyn, “we burn the candle at both ends. I needn’t tell you what Edgar does with a smoldering wick.”
“Wax off,” Jess replied drily, and high-fived me.