Margot had learned a word she liked from Haggard Hawks, and she had determined to use it in her fiction. She posted a draft of her latest short story to her Facebook writers’ group. Various members immediately seized on the passage containing the word, and by the time Margot got back to her computer there were several replies.
“Great story!” commented Talisa Curdy. “Loved the emotional truth of it. Noticed a typo: ‘She stood gowling in the rain,’ should be ‘glowing’ I think.”
Nan Jenkins replied to Talisa, “Like not perspiring but glowing? LOL”
Not responding to Talisa, Mark Tomlins gave a lengthy analysis of the story, including the comment, “I think you mean ‘howling’ in the rain, yes?”
Elver Kreek replied to Mark, “You sure that’s not ‘growling’? Made sense to me.”
Mark replied to Elver, “Why would anyone stand growling in the rain”
Elver replied, “Because she’s upset, because John just gave her cat away.”
Mark replied, “Is that a thing you would do, just growl? Just stand there and growl, in the rain, into the air?”
Elver replied, “Do you howl?”
Talisa Curdy replied in this thread, “It’s not glowing?”
Elver replied, “Why would she glow after he gave away her cat?”
Talisa replied, “Because she’s incandescent with rage, IDK, I would just want to absolutely kill the guy”
Nan Jenkins replied, “Not sweating then?”
Mark replied, “More like swearing maybe”
At this point Margot entered the discussion. She replied to Talisa’s short thread first. “Thanks! The word is actually gowling; I recently learned it and could not not use it.” She included a link: https://twitter.com/HaggardHawks/status/1370849151022419969?s=20
Then she replied to the thread started by Mark, after Mark’s last comment. “Hi, Mark! Thank you for all your analysis. I did in fact intend the word to be gowling, which, as Haggard Hawks mentioned, is ‘to weep with anger, not sadness’.” She included the same link.
Then she went to have dinner.
When she came back to Facebook, she found there had been some replies.
“I just checked this in Wiktionary,” Mark Tomlins wrote. “It says that in Scots English it means ‘to weep angrily; to howl,’ and that it’s obsolete. Maybe since your audience is modern and not in Scotland you could just make it ‘howl’?”
Margot said to herself as she read this – but did not type it, as there was more to read – “It’s not howling. It’s not the same as howling. She would not stand in the street baying like a hound in heat. What is wrong with you? They can look it up as you did.” She read on.
Dirk Oldman – where did he come from? dammit – replied to Mark, “Wiktionary also says that in Ireland it means ‘An annoying person; an idiot; a dishonest person’ and also ‘Vulva’ and I think we all know a word that can be used for all of those.” Dirk had already been banned once but apparently he had been let back in, and he was treading a very thin line. As she read this, Margot’s skin temperature lowered so much the heating in the apartment kicked in.
Mark Tomlins replied again, “I just looked in the OED, and the closest it gets is ‘To howl, yell, cry bitterly or threateningly; also, to whine. Said of men and animals.’ Also it’s chiefly Scottish and northern dialect.”
Jess Long – oh, thank heavens, at last a well-balanced adult, only occasionally upsetting – commented, “Oxford also says it’s ‘The throat. Also, the front of the neck.’ I don’t think she was necking, though.”
Why. Why would Jess do that. Taunting Mark does not justify derailing this. “Can’t she just support me once,” Margot said to herself.
Elver Kreek replied to this, “It’s also a gummy secretion in the eye.” Who gave him access to the OED?
Nan Jenkins replied, “From crying with rage?”
Elver replied, “It’s also a verb meaning ‘To stop up with gowl,’ like ‘Her eyes were all gowled up.’”
Nan replied, “So maybe she was standing there crying and her eyes got snotty and closed up.”
Mark replied, “That wouldn’t work. For one thing, your eyes get snotty when you’re asleep. For another, the rain would wash it away.”
Talisa replied, “Maybe if your LOOKING UP but who would look up? Oh right, you look up EVERYTHING”
Mark replied, “*you’re”
Nan replied, “You guys, he gave away her cat. I’d be screaming.”
Mark replied, “Right, or howling. I think we can agree that she should be standing there howling. Also, when you howl, you often look up, so the rain would wash her eyes and flow down her cheeks. So you couldn’t tell whether she was weeping or not.”
At reading this, Margot slammed her laptop shut. Daryl, hearing the sound, walked into the room, saying “Everything alright?”
Margot turned to face him, tears of anger streaming down her face. “Do—” she sniffed— “I look—” sniff— “all right?”
Daryl paused for a moment. Then he said, “You look like you’re gowling. Let me get you a glass of wine.” And he disappeared again.