Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vim and Vigor

Recently, a friend of mine described two playful puppies as being full of vim and vigor. They certainly seemed full of vigor to me, but I couldn’t tell if they were also full of vim, mainly because I didn’t exactly know what vim was.

According to the dictionary, vim is defined as robust energy and enthusiasm.

While this seems simple enough, the more I thought about it, the more complex it became.

Most of my endeavors are done with robust energy, but not necessarily with much enthusiasm. I always put in as much energy into a task as required, but I’m rarely thrilled about it. Work hard, get the job done and move on to more pleasant things, such as relaxing.

On the other hand, my ex-wife was full of enthusiasm, but usually fell short of robust energy. She was always excited about doing things, but rarely followed through to completion.

As far as vim goes, she was low on robust energy and high on enthusiasm, while I was high on robust energy and low on enthusiasm. That’s probably why we made such a good team – combined we had both qualities of vim. She would make plans and I would be responsible for carrying them out.

That’s probably also why we are no longer a team.

Lots of people are full of vim and vigor, especially young kids, middle linebackers and rodeo clowns. But I don’t remember ever personally being completely full of vim, although my ex-wife occasionally told me I was “full of it.”

She never did define “it” but I had a pretty good idea what she meant.

This brought to mind other two-part phrases.

DOWN AND OUT. As a phrase, it means to be at a low point, to hit rock bottom. Obviously, you can be down but not out, which implies you still have a chance to recover. However, if you’re out but not down, it means you’re still on your feet, still functioning yet barely conscious – much like members of Congress.

UP AND DOWN. This means that things are fluctuating. If things are up it’s good and if things are down it’s bad, unless you’re referring to inflation or a wounded moose.

BACK AND FORTH. The same as up and down, except horizontal instead of vertical.

TO AND FRO. The same as back and forth, except sideways.

BETWIXT AND BETWEEN. Since betwixt literally means between, this is a phrase used by people who like to utter as many words as possible to say the same thing – much like members of Congress.

A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. A position you don’t want to be betwixt and between.

SPIT AND POLISH. A phrase meaning extreme smartness of appearance, it originated from the practice of polishing objects, such as shoes, by spitting on them and rubbing them with a cloth. By the way, don’t try this method when washing your loved one's back or any other body part, unless you're from Alabama.

PART AND PARCEL. A phrase used by postal workers to describe parcels that don’t arrive intact.

PURE AND SIMPLE. A phrase used by teen-age boys when describing the type of girl they don’t want to date.

RANT AND RAVE. Rant means to talk in an excited manner and rave means to speak wildly. If you’re having a normal conversation and the phrase applies to you, it probably means you’re Greek or Puerto Rican.

NIP AND TUCK. A nip is a small portion of liquor and a tuck is a folded position. However, the phrase means being close. By the way, too many nips can lead to a full body tuck.

LO AND BEHOLD. Lo is an expression of surprise and behold is used to call attention to something. Thus, the phrase is used to draw attention to something of surprise, such as removing all of your clothes and discovering you're not really in a nudist colony after all. .

LOCK AND LOAD. I spent two years in the U.S. Army in the late 1960s, defending Georgia from North Vietnam. In basic training my drill sergeant, a rather muscular specimen with the IQ of a turnip, once got in my face and demanded that I "Lock and Load" – since I didn't have a clue what he was talking about it became a very disturbing moment.

Quote for the Day – "What if the Hokey Pokey is all it really is about?" Jimmy Buffett

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and wanders to and fro with partial vim. His blogs appear on several websites, including

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