In So Many Words

Info-Comics by Larry Paros

Making a Good Couple

People today are generally into "relationships". Relationships have not only cornered the market on what's going on between people, but the best adjectives as well. You may choose from the following relationships: "close," "personal," "closely personal," as well as "special" and "long and deeply personal." The more interesting are, invariably, "stormy." The top-of-the-line relationships happen to be "meaningful." "Meaningful" enhances the most sordid coupling and lends the requisite legitimacy to all matters — dare we say it — "sexual."

The greatest claim a relationship can make is that it is "relevant." It's a status earned by simply rising above the rest, or by rising again and again — almost Lazarus-like from the ashes, from the Latin, re and levare, "to rise" or "raise again." Relevancy gives a lift to any relationship. It even elevates the status of "meaningful." You can't do much better than a relationship that is both "relevant and meaningful."

Though we can't live without them, relationships have been part of the English language only since 1744, when the poet Alexander Pope first put them in print ("Our author let it pass unaltered, as a trifle that no way altered the relationship.")

People soon caught the fever and became addicted to them. The addiction comes from the word itself. It derives from the Latin, relationem, "a bringing back or restoring;" the "ship," merely creating a "sense or state of having done so" — which is exactly what relationships do — carry us back — to a story which we relate to ourselves and others over and over again.

Do your relationships have a familiar look about them? Are you haunted by a sense of déjà-vu? Do you find yourself making the same mistakes, saying the same words, engaging in the same arguments? Have only the names changed? This is what relationships are all about — repetition and returning. Finished with them, you say? Nah! You're probably just in denial.

There's still a lesson to be learned from them — if not now — another time, if not in this life — perhaps the next. That's certainly a sentiment to which we can all relate.