Collective Nouns / by Peter Bracking

Exultation, house, flock, fleet, class, kindle, stack, string, block, set, gaggle, stand, pod, pile, pool,  bureau, bundle, bouquet, chorus, battalion, squad, system, heap, gang, hand, fist, clutch, posy, hive, colony, flight, series, sequence, parade, staff, collection, ring, circle, gallery, flat; and  more, so many more words that belong to the family of collective nouns, specific and generic.  Some words are actual nouns that contain, define other nouns and others are verbs masquerading.  This is a long collection of essential modifiers that we absorb slowly as we grow and adventure through vocabulary.  This was next week's lesson.

To say a week was not true in the least.  

La Cieba is a two story state capitol of in Honduras.  There are railroad tracks attached to nothing and the bones of a pier that was sacrificed to tropical fury.  Once the port shipped gold, tobacco, gems; the bay bristled with swaying masts.  Now there is no port and sadly there are no quaint beaches littered with palapa huts shading slick cocktail bars nor glaring white sands that attract cruise ship seniors but it was hot.  Every day.  So on a daily basis I was locked in the steaming tropical shade with dozens of pre-adolescent rich kids.  Some intelligent.  Some not even close.  Most overweight.

Not that it mattered.

The English text was a North American publication designed for North American kids who’d spent their entire lives arms wrapped tight round mother’s knees, absorbing fundamental grammar, amassing useful vocabulary.  This preposterous door stop tome was required.  One page per day.  Regardless of the inability of these students to understand the concepts eloquently laid out in a foreign language.  Never mind that the vocabulary depended upon alien ideas.  One page per class.  Tested weekly.

Bevy, brace, bale den, deck, pack, pride, chest, cache, confederacy, brigade, bank, string, mob, coven.

Not that any class was ever focused on the text.  In the wet heat, all those children, locked in, none of whom wanted to listen to a moment of lessons kept their collective eyes aimed out the windows.  They could create chaos and did:

“No this is not for homework; someone give Graciela a pencil; yes you have to answer in full sentences; be quiet Julio Cesar (each class boasts its own Julius Caesar, one; two), look at the book not the sky; stop talking Julio Cesar; ask the question in English to learn the answer; sit down; no you may not you just came back; sit down Julio Cesar; no this is not for homework; …”

School, bunch, barrel, shower, staff, network, mob battalion, battery, herd, armada, spate, phalanx, barrage, murder.

There only a single satisfaction granted teachers.  This single satisfaction is finding a way to have a/the/any student learn, understand and then (only as this is a requirement) regurgitate upon demand.  Weekly.  So, intent upon personal satisfaction and the hope that anything from this incomprehensible lesson would be retained I created a new collective noun.  A collective noun that was a part of their lives.  A collective noun that produced that smile of understanding.  This collective noun was reviewed moment by chaotic moment.  Class time.  Lunch time.  All the time.  Unsurprisingly it worked.

There are now hundreds of young people on two continents that refer to any number of young girls as a giggle.

Peter Bracking tells tall tales. Earth point: a tropical metropolis. Words have literally been published from ocean to ocean to ocean by some really great literary mags in a growing number of countries on half the inhabited continents. The only occupation is being a beach bum. Peter is the artistic director of Utter Stories. Self aggrandizement here.