Swishiness… Origins and Meanings

Why Swishiness, you ask?  Well, let me just tell you.

As some of you may know, during college, I was a creative writing major.  This major required many things of me, primarily writing, but mostly reading quietly, attending public readings, and listening to excessive blather from some of the most pedantic members of the academic community.  It was a very peculiar experience that I loved very much, looking back.  Anyway, it was also occasionally required of me to read aloud, publicly.  This fact never bothered me too much, having had much workshop experience and also a strong proclivity for speaking aloud (I’ve been known to spew pedantic myself).  And so, during my poetry workshop second semester senior year, I was called upon to fulfill my duty as a creative writing major and read aloud a poem for a presentation from my most beloved poetry book, Poemland, by Chelsey Minnis.  And so I read:

The swishiness of others is legendary…

But I must live under the swishiness of my own self…

There is swishiness in the future…

But I don’t know about it yet.

Death will come to end swishiness

But my swishiness will continue in my poems…!

Yes, it is a beautiful, strange little poem.  And as I proudly lifted my head from the book to begin speaking on the bizarre and brilliant use of the word “swishiness“, one classmate cut in loudly with “Maybe that’s because it’s swiNishness, not SWISHINESS! (You moron)”  Well, yeah, it is swinishness.  Oh well?  I really screwed the pooch on that one.

My face was red, but I laughed along with the rest of my classmates and did what any good loud-mouth would do: owned it.  Yeah, I said swishiness, so what??  I saved face, but secretly I was very embarrassed. When you embarrass yourself as much as I do, you get pretty good at masking your humiliation.

The scene continued two days later, when our class was graced with the presence of Chelsey Minnis herself.  Side note, I think she is a genius.  She is hands down my favorite poet and a great presence in the classroom as well.  Anyhow, she had chosen a few poems to read aloud and talk about.  I was hoping, begging, PRAYing that she wouldn’t turn to page 39.  But you can guess what happened. And as the word “swinishness” so flawlessly rolled off her tongue, I bit my lip, and smiled as my classmates’ eyes unanimously shot in my direction.  Yikes.

It became a dominating theme for me in this classroom, I went so far in my attempt to neutralize my gaffe by naming my chapbook “swishiness” and even further by giving my blog the name.  But in truth, I think this concept is very representative of who I am. I love to laugh, and it’s a good thing too, because I give myself reason to quite frequently.  Life is swishy.  Period.  I say dumb, inappropriate things all the time, every day of my life.  You should hear me order at an unfamiliar burrito shop or restaurant, really, can’t take me anywhere.  Some say they find it enduring, but I find it like reality.  I’m a swishy person. I’d rather be swishy than swinish, wouldn’t you?  I am taken back to this quote from Feste, the clown of Twelfth Night:

“Wit, and ‘t be thy will, put me into good fooling! Those wits
that think they have thee do very oft prove fools; and I, that am
sure I lack thee, may pass for a wise man: for what says
Quinapalus? ‘Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.'”

In conclusion, I said it before, and I’ll say it again: swishiness sounds better anyway.

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