I never thought much about the word 'Acronym' and when I did I decided there and then that I didn't like it at all. There is something about a word loaded down with consonants that bothers me. The word 'Acronym' has only two vowels. A vowel is a speech sound made with vibration of the vocal cords without audible friction. I do not like audible friction, in fact I stay as far away from friction as I possibly can. Friction is defined as a clash of wills, temperaments or opinions. And consonants sound partly frictional because they are speech sounds in which the breath is partly obstructed. Bad news.
I once worked, many years ago now, for an Acronym in Berkeley, Ca. actually to be honest and precise about this, it was a University affiliated Acronym. I suppose you could say I was pretty naive way back then and that would be an understatement. I was still adjusting to life in a new country and to marriage and I felt that I was constantly swimming against strong currents. My english was wrong too as far as I could gather from a woman who wore her name on a tag across the breast of her fresh navy suit and ran an employment agency. Jan threw words out at me to check on my spelling ability. I had to spell center, I wrote centre, for color, I spelt colour, for mustache, I wrote moustache and for tire, I wrote, yes, I wrote tyre. You get the picture. I failed.
My husband was entrenched in the hallowed halls of academia at the time and even though he had a small stipend it wasn't even close to paying for our overpriced apartment in Kensington, that had an unequalled view of the Bay and the city, it also had drunks for neighbours and a wonderful bakery across the street. I applied for a job on the campus and we could not believe our luck when I secured the post. We were overjoyed. Could pay the rent, have some dinners out now and then and eat as many baguettes as we desired.
But the Acronym was daunting and apart from having to learn all the other acronyms stored in the heaving filing cabinets, I had to answer the 'phones, type reams of reports, maintain the office supplies, open and send mail and be available to my Acronym boss whose voice sounded to be full of friction, seriously lacking vowels. I struggled on with each day, envying the students lolling about on the grass, strolling around as if they hadn't a care in the world. I was sick of the office and my office clothes and the damn list of acronyms that I stuck onto the wall.
Everything changed one morning when I opened the mail as usual putting the little acronym stamp on all incoming correspondence. I suppose I did it automatically because I never noticed the envelope with ''personal'' written beside my bosses name. It was from his lover. The tone was obviously intimate and it spoke of past liasons along the coast and the ones to come. I did not know what to do. My god, the man was a giant in his field, highly respected, why his wife and kids were in the office just a week before, he even put his arm lovingly around her. I saw him. I thought about throwing the letter into the waste basket, or folding it into a tiny square and putting it in my bag or tearing it up but the fool that I was, I stamped it and put it into his in box in the middle of a great big stack of acronym related material. I don't know what I did after that, made some coffee, watched the clock, planned the evening to come. I don't know.
A week later I was dismissed. There was no excuse given. A month later my husband and I were on the road back to Arizona where we had come from. I remember because we only reached the Interstate as the sun was beginning to set. It was nearing the end of a day but it signified the beginning for us. We were heading for open country and big skies, woodstoves and dogs and long walks in the mountains and an endless backdrop of shooting stars. For a moment though I did think about the man with the consonant voice and his obsession for acronyms, who was, I guessed, already calling on his new secretary to grab him a fresh cup of coffee and to try one more time to locate a bunch of freshly filed acronyms that had somehow gone missing.