Matt and Laura co-wrote this month’s post.

“The man is not wholly evil—he has a thesaurus in his cabin.”
– J. M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, describing the character Captain Hook
(also the epigraph for The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet)

L: I searched in vain for any other job the summer before my junior year at Calvin, but alas, my only option was cleaning the dorms. I ambled in groggily at 7 a.m. one day for the usual beginning of the day gathering and recognized Matt Hubers, a friend of my sister’s who I’d secretly swooned over when I’d seen him from afar. It was his first day, since he’d had to finish high school before starting work; something fluttered in my stomach, but I chalked that up to a distinct lack of coffee in my day thus far. I didn’t even know him.

notice, attention, cognizance, observance, apprehension

M: “Do you know where the sponges are?” She was standing right in front of me; she looked like she expected something. It occurred to me that the question might have been directed at me. “I’m on a sponge hunt,” she explained.

It was Laura Bardolph. I remembered her all the way back to my sophomore year of high school (she was a senior) when I played the least white Indian in our high school play, Peter Pan. She had been in the orchestra pit. She looked exactly the same as I remembered her—tall, thin, with curly brown hair flowing halfway down her back. She looked smart. She always had a book with her and she spoke using long and sophisticated words. I didn’t want to seem a simpleton. Ooh, that’s a good word; how could I insert it into our conversation?

“I think Sue has them.”

Nice going, simpleton, I thought to myself.

simpleton, birdbrain, buffoon, clod, dunderhead

L: I brought a book with me every day to read during lunch. I was re-(re-re-re-)reading my way through The Chronicles of Narnia. One day Matt came over and sat down with me, completely disregarding my focus on Eustace’s adventures on the Dawn Treader. “Mind if I join you?” he asked.

“Nope,” I answered, albeit a little reluctantly. I gave my book a longing glance as I placed the bookmark.

I tried to focus on staying (or, at least, seeming) cool and collected as we chatted about C. S. Lewis, Shakespeare, the Cubs, Kyle Farnsworth, and the NFL. I never emerge from a good book particularly gracefully, especially not when I emerge to find myself chatting with an incredibly attractive and apparently intelligent boy. I was sure at some point I was going to spill my water all over him, at the very least.

flustered, discombobulated, muddled, discomposed, ruffled

M: The forklift went by the window for the seventh time, still carrying its load: an empty wheelbarrow. We had spent the last hour speculating the purpose of this. Were they lost? Did they not know how wheelbarrows worked? Was the driver without work to do and thus pretending to be occupied? That was what we were doing, anyway. We had spent the last hour in the Kalsbeek basement chatting. We had never spent so much time together before. The first few lunches had been a little awkward. Sounding intelligent clearly came more naturally to those who were actually intelligent. But every day I found it becoming easier and easier to talk to Laura. She was sweet, patient, and didn’t seem to mind my rambling stories and witless humor. We noticed the time, contemplated returning to work, and became distracted as the wheelbarrow forklift rolled by again.

friend, companion, chum, compatriot, pal

L: I scurried back from lunch, a little late. Again. Matt and I had discussed the relative merits of each of the Cubs starting pitchers at great length and lost track of time. Again.

My crew was starting to ask questions.

“So. Do you like him?” Becky asked briskly.

I squirmed. “I don’t know. I mean, I really like talking to him. He’s a good friend.”

“But do you like him? Are you guys going to go out?”

“You should.” Andrew chimed in. “You guys are swooning over each other every day at lunch. Just date him already.”

I honestly didn’t know what to say. What was the right word for how I felt about Matt?

crush, admiration, infatuation, affection, fondness

M: She asked me on the first date. I wasn’t exactly smart enough to know it was a date. We had agreed to go swing dancing downtown with some of her friends. We were going as friends, right? I wore my nicest shirt with a cotton T underneath, and applied an ample dose of deodorant. Two minutes of dancing and I knew I would be wet and slippery as a pool noodle.

We danced the whole evening without a single break. I was sore and sweaty, but Laura didn’t seem to mind. We had started out with Laura’s friends, but they seemed to be around less as the night wore on. I liked dancing with her. I liked catching her eye. I liked laughing with her every time we would try and fail the fancy spinny flippy dippy dancy things other dance partners would do. I liked her. I was sure of that.

like, cherish, appreciate, adore, love


  1. Gabe Gunnink

    Thanks for the post Matt and Laura! Although, I must say that I felt a bit left out to dry by the lack of resolution in regards to the sponge hunt. Also, I thought you thesaurus-philes would like this word: “mot juste.” It came over to English from French and means “the exact, appropriate word.” Your post made me think of it right away!

    • Avatar

      I do love that phrase. Alas, seven years later I don’t remember the resolution to the sponge hunt — the highlight of the day was talking to Matt for the first time. That particular memory sort of obscures everything else.


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