Graceful is a word that always makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know why. It doesn’t set my teeth on edge and make my hair prickle the ways some words do, but there’s something about it that sits like clag in my mouth and prevents me from using it without a concealed weapon: her graceful pose a perfect disguise for her rat-trap mind; a graceful precursor to a perfect bellyflop.
You might think my discomfort comes from the knowledge that I’ll never be it, but that’s not right either. There are lots of words I’ll never be – agile, stylish, beautiful – that don’t bother me at all. But graceful…
Grace, funnily enough, I’m rather fond of in all its manifestations: as a name, a quality, even as the thanksgiving before meals. Benedictus benedicat, per Christum, Amen sung in two-part harmony – you’ve got to love it, really.
Gracious is good, too: a word that glides off the tongue in a ribbon of infinite possibility and subtle nuance ripe for manipulation. Hours of fun there are with gracious. But graceful is just…wrong.
My dislike of delicious, on the other hand, is easy to trace. It was done to death in my youth by a family friend, to the point where we waited for it with that combination of snigger and embarrassment peculiar to the young, and couldn’t bear to watch the coy dab of napkin to lips that invariably followed. But she was fine in all other ways, so it was the word that suffered, not the friendship, and then only in regard to food. In any other context, delicious is – well, delicious, and won’t be banned from my vocabulary anytime soon.
But the word I hate most in the whole world… I hate it so much that I’m not even going to write it.