English is a charming language, not least for its carefree inconsistency. Occasional words are their own opposites: "to sanction" can mean either encourage or punish; "to dust" could be removing small particles from a surface or alternatively sprinkling them on it; "to trim" involves cutting away material or adding ornamentation; and "to cleave" is both to stick together and to split apart.

Which last brings to mind "cleavage": a term in national news headlines recently via commentary on a female Presidential candidate's discreet décolletage. Or should that be "discrete"? In either event, it's clearly a delicate topic around which wise writers tread lightly. Robert A. Heinlein in his novel The Puppet Masters does so. He introduces Mary, a central character:

A long, lean body, but unquestionably and pleasingly mammalian. Good legs. Broad shoulders for a woman. Flaming, wavy red hair and the real redheaded saurian bony structure to her skull. Her face was handsome rather than beautiful; her teeth were sharp and clean. ...

Mary can detect human who have been taken over by aliens, based on their lack of reaction to her feminine charms. Heinlein describes her ability in adroitly G-rated 1951-era language. I shall follow his example, and not comment further on the multiple distractions a scorekeeper must face at warm-weather baseball games, when womanly attire is at its summertime skimpiest ...

(cf. KeysToTheKingdom (1 Jul 2001), AwesomeProwess (17 July 2003), DebutanteDance (22 Mar 2005), DorsalVerityVentralDeceit (7 Sep 2006), ...)

TopicLanguage - TopicHumor - TopicLiterature - 2007-08-04

(correlates: GreatPicnic, OneThirdEach, GenomicBookshelves, ...)