Among my fellow members of the Order of Logogustation, it has always been my old friend Philippe who has been the suave dresser, even back to our collegiate days when he was winning girls away from me and Maury. Apart from certain other members I won’t name right now who are known for wearing skin-tight black leather, most dress as though words are all that matter to them. Maury has a liking for bowties and jackets but manages to come across more professorial than dashing.
So eyebrows were raised to the ceiling when Maury strode in on a recent evening wearing a very sharp grey suit that somehow turned his figure from spud to stud. Even Jess and Arlene looked twice. Elisa Lively squealed lightly.
“Good gravy, old sport,” I said. “This bespeaks an unprecedented level of sartorial technique for you.”
“Or, more to the point,” Philippe said, walking up and pinching a bit of Maury’s jacket cuff between thumb and forefinger, “a new level of sartorial technique is bespoke.” Philippe tilted his head this way and that as he surveyed the seams.
“Shouldn’t that be bespoken?” Elisa asked.
“That depends on the context in which it happens to be spoken,” I said.
“Bespeak uses that old English be prefix that really means ‘about’ or ‘for’ or is an intensifier,” Jess said, also surveying Maury’s attire. “For bespeak it turned an intransitive verb, speak, into a transitive. ‘Speak of, speak about, proclaim, speak for, speak in the arrangement of’. So on.”
Maury, for his part, had so far not spoken a single word. Which was also atypical.
“Right,” said Elisa, “so, speak, spoken, bespeak, bespoken. No?”
“I’ve always felt as though it should be,” I said, “but in this case it’s not.” I shrugged. “When you’re talking about tailoring, suits, and such other things as may be made to specific order and custom fitted, it is definitely bespoke.”
“Even I know that,” said Arlene, our young university student. She was leaning against a table, dressed in Marlene Dietrich pinstripes. I bet she knew.
“The word has been cut to fit,” Jess said.
“They’ve trimmed off the excess n and left it in the pile of ends,” I said.
“So, Maury,” Philippe said, “who made this for you?”
Maury held open his jacket to display a label on the pocket with some sort of little rebus.
“It’s not custom tailored?” Elisa said, leaning forward to look.
“It is,” Maury said. “They have their own label they sew on.”
Elisa scrutinized it. “Bug and bicycle tire?”
Philippe smiled wryly. “Bee. Spokes.”
“A new outfit,” Maury said. “Friends. And I, as a man of words and man of the world, happen to bee… their new spokesperson.”
“I’m sure that role suits you well,” I said.
Elisa stroked the sleeve and tweaked his pocket kerchief. “Doing anything later, handsome?”
Maury raised one eyebrow in as close to a Bond style as he could muster. “Sorry. I happen to bespoken for.”
Thanks to my mother for suggesting today’s word.