The headline was simple enough, innocuous. Boring even. I’m probably the only person in the world, at least in California, who read it and turned away in disgust. It went something like this: “So-and-so will stump for Senator So-and-so.”
It wasn’t either of the So-and-So’s that bothered me. It was that one infernal verb that I loathe. Stump.
Stump is a noun. A stump is what is left of a tree that has been felled. Or what is left of a human leg that has been sawed off at the knee. Those are stumps. Whenever an election year rolls around and people start stumping (which conjures the image of campaign supporters hopping around the country on one leg) I get vexed. Most severely vexed.(Can you tell I’ve been watching Jane Austen on PBS on Sunday nights!)
“Hey, Vic! Whaddja do last weekend?”
“Oh, hey, Mel. I stumped!”
“You went stumping?”
“Oh, yeah. I stumped all weekend. It was great. You should have stumped with me, man. We stumped all over the county. You ever stumped?
Or how about this.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce Vic, here, my main stumper.”
“Ah, gee, thanks, Senator. You know I’m proud to stump for you.”
“Well, I am so grateful for all the fine people who stump on my behalf. Where would I be without your stumping?”
Eee gads. Who in the world made up this word? It’s the most pathetic of campaign terms, completely lacking any eloquence or spark or cleverness.
And for heaven’s sake, no one actually says this word aloud. It’s always part of a headline. It’s a soul-less verb no one wants to say. I keep hoping the written media types will realize what a clunker word they’ve got here and come up with something new. But they like their five-letter verbs. I know they do. I used to be a newspaper editor. But I’m telling you right now I never stooped to using stump unless I was writing about elm remains.
It’s only February. November is such a long way off. I know I am in the teensiest of minorities here. I shall have to endure the ‘s’ word for weeks to come. I can already hear the madly hopping foot chasing me down the hall of my discontent.