Now that the holidays are officially upon us, what with the floodgates of Thanksgiving fully opened and allowing us to be excessive in all things related to familial celebrations, it seems a good time to unwrap the gift of a good word that doesn’t get to trot its stuff as often as it should.
We’re speaking, of course, of that wobbly kneed adjective born of the less-popular middle-English transitive verb, “Besotted.”
Yes, perhaps your head is saying to you, “Oh. That. We remember that, don’t we? Ouch.” Or, perhaps your don’t remember due to an excess of besotment. UFO conspiracy theorists call it “lost time” and blame it on abduction by aliens. It can happen this time of year. (Besotment, that is. Alien abductions, less so.) Somewhere between the turkey and the football, somewhat more alcohol is served than is advisable, and someone among your party not you weaves across the floor to your position, grabs you around the neck with his arm and begins blubbering into your shoulder, “Love ya, man!”
Here's the enjoyable irony of that little vignette. “Besotted,” which is commonly construed to mean alcohol intoxication, comes from a different etymological root: it means “infatuated” or being made to appear foolish or stupid because of infatuation. The prefix “be-” represents being caused to be something, and the wet, heavy root word “sot” lands with splat, coming from the equally heavy and wet sounding middle-English noun “sott,” meaning “fool.”
So, the inebriant who is besotted by drink and hooks you around the neck to serve a heaping helping of “Love ya, man!” upon your person is also besotted by his love for you despite the fact that you married his sister and owe him money. (Though, not for marrying his sister. The money was for an altogether different transaction.)
In fact, the earliest known use of the word “besotted” is in a poem from 1597 in which the narrator is head over heels infatuated with a stranger and describes himself as so foolishly “besotted” that he’s like the guy who was cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs enough to get busy with Clytemnestra while Agamemnon was at war.
Sorry, was that too arcane? Forgive me. I’m no scholar of Greek literature. I merely know enough classical references to appear boorish at cocktail parties whilst upon the road to besotment.
As the post-pandemic holiday season gets into full swing and the fools among us continue to get themselves thrown off of commercial airliners for violations of decorum that bring into question their mental health, enjoy your favorite intoxicant in moderation, whether it be sugar, sweet emotion, or that fallback beverage of the classical texts, wine. And please do so in moderation so that when you’re asked how the office holiday party was, you can cheerfully reply, “They were a besotted lot” with no reference to yourself, either as an inebriant or as an overly emotive fool for the holiday.
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in Park City
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Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.