In whooping him for vice president in the National Review last week Ralph Reed (remember him?, stayed out of jail somehow) called Mike Huckabee, the former bro. former gov. former Arkie now bigtime media gabbler "winsome."
It's one of those words I don't use often enough to be confident that I remember the exact meaning of it so I wind up eschewing it pretty much altogether. I wouldn't want to be saying, "That's a mighty winsome stand of tomaters you got there, Elbert" or "I seen a pretty winsome feral hog down along the crick this morning" only to find out later that "winsome" means something totally untomatolike or unswinelike. Same reason I don't call grapes phlegmatic or Baptists glabrous.
So "winsome" collects dust back there in the place where my seldom-used stuff is stored. Flecks of rust grow on it. Mice nibble and poop on it.
I remember when the hippies called such ruminations as this one might turn out to be "heavy." That brand of "heavy" is back there behind the closed door, too. Along with the "heavy" that was a way of trying to avoid hurt feelings when referring to a fat loved one's obesity. Nobody wants to be called obese. Or corpulent, either.
So those heavies and the winsome languish in that dim place of relics and discards. Rarely called upon. Along with the orange chair, the stereo, the paint cans that couldn't be thrown away because I might want to match the color sometime in the 2040s. Good manners. Good grooming. Neighborliness. Respect for them what have a different point of view.
Some relatively recent stuff in amongst the clutter. The bus that everybody was constantly throwing somebody under just a while back. The land line.
I rummaged around back there for a time looking for a remembered definition of winsome. Rummaging through the possibilities:
• In the context, it seemed most likely to be a slime weasel's coy way of saying, "I'd like to bleeb this guy's bleep."
Except what is "coy" exactly? From Mrs. Callaway's long-ago English class, I remember a little of the Andrew Marvell poem "To His Coy Mistress" — it was too subtle for me to figure out why 300 years ago it was considered smutty — but was the narrator complaining about his girlfriend's coyness or praising it? Or maybe her name was Coy. I've known both men (Coy Jordan) and women (Coy Easterly) named Coy, so it might be a synonym for androgynous, and Huckabee wouldn't want to be associated with any word that comes that close to intimating a whimsical attitude toward the gay life, especially one that might be cloaking a wispy suggestion of the participatory, the ejaculation "eeuuww!!" being the nearest he's let himself get to addressing the topic or recognizing its existence.
• Winsome might be a good word in describing the former bro. former gov. former Arkie, though, if it turned out to mean importunate. Said of someone who always has his hand out. Someone who thinks he's owed largesse. A true-blue lifelong believer in entitlements. But entitlements not for the many and not for the few. Maybe not for him alone, but... well, maybe so. Not because of anything he's done to earn it, but just because. So have your winsome love offering, your winsome PAC contribution, ready.
• And winsome would be the perfect descriptive if it meant forgiving. Forgiving in the very narrow sense of wanting to turn loose criminals likely to go back into society and become mass murderers.
• Or winsome would be an inspired choice here if it chanced to refer to one who writes shallow, self-serving, platitudinous books. Books that contain no real thoughts but only empty peanut hulls. Books that are really only a Colton's floor in folio masquerade. Words as husks. Greasy husks, somehow, but husks. Books that I would almost guarantee have never been read start to finish by anyone unobliged, even the Ralph Reeds and Tom Delays and Newt Gingriches and their miserable ilk, who didn't have a gun to his or her head.
• Or winsome might just mean mad for Velveeta. In which case it would always be apt in any treatment of Huckabism.
• Even uncertain of the definition, I'm a right smart confident that there was nothing winsome about crushing all those hard drives to allow the gubernatorial cohort to disperse untroubled by looming hoosegow anxieties, nor anything winsome about trying to force motherhood on an indigent retarded child pregnant from having being raped by her father. Ralph Reed might see that last as winsome, and National Review surely would, and collared perv clergy requiring a constant replenishment of little vics to diddle. But common decency would seek its winsome elsewhere. Left to shake its head.
Or winsome might not even be a word, merely the first half of the common expression "winsome, losesome."
I finally looked it up in my Funk & Wagnalls — it's unsporting to do that, I know, takes all the fun out, eliminates the Wallyrisk of penning howlers — and sure enough, my first shot had been closest to the mark. Subliminal weasel mooncalfing about bleeping the Huckleberry bleep.