Those little-known facts can change your life

Life fills itself with little-known facts.

For instance, you can feel smug about quoting playwright Eugene O’Neill, but if you don’t know what you’re saying, you lose the zing. In “Ah, Wilderness,” O”Neill used the phrase “A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou beside me singing in the wilderness. Ah, wilderness, were paradise enow.”

And it’s not enough to know that enow is the archaic way of saying enough, you’ve got to know that he borrowed such a magnificent phrase from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Then you’ve got to know that rubaiyat is the Arabic word for quatrain, and quatrain is a stanza or poem of four lines.

I never should have used enow in an email to my sister, the retired teacher. In all her teacher-ness, she said she probably wouldn’t use a word she didn’t know, even if it had been said in a play Fort Dodge Community College did years and years ago. So many years, I was there and it wasn’t yet Iowa Central Community College.

Enow, already.

A second for instance: There seems to be a shelf life on van automatic driver-side window openers.

You can be going along, day after day, minding your own business, using the drive-through at Citizens Community Credit Union and using the drive-through to pick up a large diet Coke on the way home at night. Or getting the mail after you back out of the garage. Any of those things. Or just talking to someone on the other side of the window. Anything.

Then one day you drive up to your mailbox and punch the button and nothing happens. Nothing. Now that’s an empty feeling. And frustrating. The passenger-side sliding door already must be locked and unlocked by hand because the motor that runs the automatic lock has failed and it costs more to fix it than to drive to Denver to see our daughter.

Of course, then it would be fixed or I’d be in Denver. That’s one of those six things or half a dozen. No right answer there. And I still know how to push down the lock, so, really, it’s a no-brainer. Dana and Denver won.

But what might be the most intriguing of little-known facts I’ve recently uncovered: If I look at the hair on my arm against late-afternoon sunlight flooding the van, it glows a reddish color. At first, I thought how odd. Then I remembered my hair used to be that color. A deep brown that showed reddish lights in the sun.

I say “then I remembered” because my hair’s been gray for so long, it’s hard to recognize any other color as mine. Even if it does dance on my arm in the sunshine.

The beauty of uncovering little-known facts, of course, comes from the basic act of learning something, or relearning it, as the case may be. Just shows you no matter how gray the hair or how odd the word, you’re still in charge of your life.

And you can do with it what you wish.

So long friends, until the next time when we’re together.

Sandy Mickelson, retired lifestyle editor of The Messenger, may be reached at