Ah, sleep: the nightly frontier. To boldly, or at least relaxedly, go where one has gone before, and yet every night a new hypnagogy, every morning a new hypnopomp leading to brekky. Dreams are when your brain takes out the trash, and every day’s dump brings new junk for the dogs of dreamland to strew over the lawn of your subjunct consciousness. Sometimes dropping into the nightly trek to Never-Never Land is as easy as splitting an infinitive. Sometimes it is rather more tricky. Last night was one of the latter for me. And today I felt drecky.
Drecky? Like junk. Like crap. Rubbishy. As though my hypnagog got run over by a dumptruck, and instead of hypnopomp I had an unappealing circumstance, washing back and forth over the limen while trying in repeated dreams to remember the Chinese character for ‘play’.
OK, so have you never seen this word drecky before? If you search it on the web you will find a few definitions, among which the Urban Dictionary one stands out – the others will tell you it means ‘trashy’ in a literal sense, but Urban Dictionary hews to the derogatory sense of trashy as applied to young women. Given that most of Urban Dictionary appears to have been written by adolescent boys, this is not so surprising.
But obviously drecky is an adjectival form of dreck. And dreck is what? A word I first learned long ago from MAD Magazine (which writer I can’t remember, but it may have been Mort Drucker). It’s a word we got from Yiddish (often spelled drek there; in German it’s Dreck). It’s normally used to mean ‘junk, garbage, trash’. Actually in Yiddish it literally means ‘excrement’ or ‘dregs’. It appears to have a common Indo-European etymon with Greek σκατός skatos as in scatological.
It’s a good word for derision. The /d/ grinds into an affricate and the lips round as it growls into the /r/ and the sound of a “wreck.” The tongue pulls back and crashes at the velum; the lips widen apart. It’s vaguely reminiscent of the motion of trash being swept into a dustpan.
And today I felt like a dustpan that hadn’t been dumped. My mental trunk was full of junk. The porcelain bowl of my mind had not flushed clear. I felt like dreck. I felt drecky. Fortunately, like Dracula, I come to life after dark no matter what. And the taste of a word will always do the trick for me.