“The word of the day,” Maury said, sipping on his Berlin,* “was incondite.”
“OK,” I said, “but what was the word?”
“Do not try me, James,” said Maury. “I have not been enjoying myself.”
“More’s the pity,” I said. “I have always liked your con-do attitude.”
Maury had been at one of his occasional pastimes, looking at show units for condos not yet built. There’s quite a lot of this recreation available in Toronto these days, but it’s not always exhilarating. I was also making a pun on incondite, since it is from Latin inconditus, formed from in- ‘not’ and conditus, past participle of condo, ‘I build’ (ironically not the origin of English condo, which is short for condominium).
“So the building is not well built?” I said.
“They are trying for the Jenga ethos, I think, but it’s more in the line of Jumanji. As processed through the back racks of a TJ Maxx.”
“Incondite,” I said. Incondite can mean ‘poorly constructed’.
“Well, that’s not what I was thinking of, but I suppose so, or it will be once it’s built, assuming it gets built and stays built long enough for anyone to say a word about it.”
“So the unit design is not good, then?” Incondite can mean ‘poorly designed’.
“Although that’s not what I was referring to, you are again right. Once you get through the serpentine entry hallway, you may be searching for a lever to depress to dispense a food pellet, but good luck finding and identifying all the rooms, in spite of there being so few of them. You wish they had hung arrows and signs.”
“And instead they hung something less tasteful?” Incondite can describe bad art and bad literature.
“Though that is not what I meant, you are again right. I would have thrown down a twenty for a glimpse of something even as coherent as an ersatz Klimt of dogs playing poker under the banner ‘Live – Laugh – Love.’ I believe the paintings were done by members of the Group Grope of Seven, or anyway of Six-ninety-nine. I was unable to extract any clear information from the agent about the art. Or about anything else.”
“I see. Words failed them? Or their speech was… lacking in polish?” Incondite can refer to unrefined speech.
“Incoherent, perhaps. Not erudite. But on the other hand, they may have been nonplussed by what I had uttered in the first place.”
“And… was that incondite?”
“Yes, in the sense taken from incondita vox, referring to phatic interjections. My response was automatic and involuntary. I looked around at the cataclysmic vomitrocity and said” – his face pruned paroxysmally as he repeated it – “Uuuuggghhhhhh.”
*A Berlin is, of course, the cocktail you have after you have had a Manhattan. It is made with four parts Cognac, one part Becherovka, and a bit of orange bitters, plus a big ice cube. Garnish if you want with something expensive and tasteless, like gold leaf or a Rolex.