Enlightening "lightning"

The air has been miserable. Hot, humid, Ozone Level Orange, depressing, oppressive, enervating, and full of mosquitos. Late August in Dallas. Dark clouds pile up. We get one loud crash of thunder, and six raindrops sizzle on the sidewalk. That's it. Show's over. Move along, folks.

It's enough to make me very cranky about spelling. Before the thunder, there was a flash of lightning. Not "lightening", as I see so often in print. I haven't had a flash of lightening since the birth of my youngest son.

Lightening occurs about two weeks before labor when the fetus lowers into the maternal pelvis, engaging for childbirth. It seems appropriate to point that out on this Labor Day weekend. The pregnant woman feels a slight lessening of abdominal distension when this occurs. Of course, she may also feel like the Thanksgiving wishbone about to be pulled apart.

Lightning is a discharge of atmospheric electricity. Not the same thing.

I'm pleased to report that lightening is also a laser method of removing tattoos, a very good thing. To use it in a sentence, "The trained medical professional is lightening LeRoy's lightning bolt tattoo that he got in Leavenworth," is a very proper and applaudable use of the word.

To lighten is to illuminate or brighten; to decrease the weight or load; to lessen the oppressiveness; or to move through the value scale from black to gray to white.

To lighten up is an idiom meaning to relax, to become less serious and more cheerful. It will be possible when the weather changes and proofreading returns to Earth!

For now, I've put The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys in the cd player. Spell it right or leave me alone.

Sometimes I feel like I'm fading away

You're looking at me, I've got nothing to say

Don't make me angry with the games that you play

Either light up or leave me alone

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

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