NSFW: The Merkin

While this article is not entirely NSFW, this Wikipedia link does somewhat qualify.
Yeah, I know, it’s pink!

I am fascinated by words, and although my English vocabulary is not as vast as I would like it to be, I sometimes like to challenge native speakers to a game of “tell me a word I haven’t heard before”. My winning combo: merkin, stolid, inculcate; with merkin at the top of the list.

I have discovered this wonderful word in Tom Sharpe’s Ancestral Vices a couple of years ago, and it was one of those rare discoveries that sweep you off your feet and set your mind racing madly into the most unusual directions.

To begin with, this deceptively simple word captures the whiffy spirit of an age when a lack of hygiene and a surplus of bashfulness made its establishment a necessity.

On the other hand, as far as bad words go, merkin doesn’t really have the sound of one. You know what I mean – those foul words that actually sound foul?
See more on the sound words make, in this brilliant Monty Python sketch:

Then of course, because my dirty mind has a mind of its own, I couldn’t help but wondering what would it be like if someone were to be named Merkin. As luck would have it, I was just undergoing my preliminary research for The Scriptlings.

The rest, with a little bit of luck, will be history.

Note:
As I was writing this, I was saddened to learn that Tom Sharpe has passed away a few weeks ago, on June 6th. If you haven’t read any of his books, then perhaps now would be a good time to. You will find his finely crafted mix of satire, erudition and prurience very hard to resist.


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