Monday, June 5, 2017

Tim Tintera’s Thesaurus

Tim Tintera’s Thesaurus

I don’t know when I decided I was going to be a writer. Certainly I was a big reader, always had been and admired many writers, especially Louisa May Alcott. I wanted to be Jo. But that didn’t necessarily translate into being a writer. There must have come a time when it became obvious that it wasn’t a phase. The Jane who wrote poetry and fastidiously kept a journal was going to write her own stories.

But first I had to steal Tim Tintera’s thesaurus. What a word! What was this odd kind of book. It was about numbers and words. It was half science and half English. With a smidgen of Latin—at least when it came to the arcane classifications. Yet a thesaurus made sense of the crazy universe.

I was maybe a 6th grader and Tim Tintera was a lot older. Likely an 8th grader. I played after school with his sister. I might have thought he was cute, when he wasn’t being annoying and a bully. He mostly ignored us. Which was good because when I snuck into his room he wasn’t around. I spied the thesaurus on his desk, skimmed through it, and took it. I never once thought I was going to keep it. Perhaps borrow.

At some point I might have had a falling out with Tim Tintera’s sister, who I forget her name. Or maybe the family moved. I remember 2 or 3 families living in that house, ringing their doorbell on the weekend and waking up the dad to see if Smokey or Kim could come out to play, and , later Tim Tintera’s sister.

I found the thesaurus helpful then indispensable. It followed me everywhere, packed up with my most important books. I never left it behind. College at Wright State and college at Ohio University. “Career” move to Chicago. Through several apartments, disasters, offices. Categories of words my constant companions. Through chaos they were there, organized, whispering calm.

Yet there it was as big as life, the name Tim Tintera inside the creased and battered cover. Until the cover fell off.

Tim Tintera wherever you are, I’m sorry I stole your thesaurus. But, think of it this way, you have contributed to any success, though limited and maybe just in my own mind, that I might have experienced. What might have been just a resource for you, a paperweight, became the cornerstone of who I am. A word person.

Thank you. God speed to you. Blessings, benedictions, well wishes.

original thesaurus


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