Updated: Jun 18, 2021
It can be hard to make friends in a new place. If there isn’t a commonly visited location, like a bar or church, how does one make friends?
Often, the answer is work.
But “work people” aren’t always “friend people”.
In an effort to see if a “work person” might be a “friend person”, my husband, Judah, invited a coworker over for dinner.
If that isn’t his exact name; it’s how I remember it, and this is my recounting!
Geddes came over for dinner on a Friday night. We lived in a one-bedroom apartment with no official dining area. We had a light blue card table and dark brown folding chairs we would pull out when company came over. If they were lucky, they got a table cloth under their plate.
After dinner, we hung out in the living room chatting. Geddes was telling us about this underwater documentary he had seen on coral reefs.
“The divers had oxygen tanks on. When they got to this one area, they had to take their tanks off. The opening was too small to get through with their tanks on. They took off their tanks, squoze through the opening, and it was the most incredible sight I’d ever seen.”
While the focus was on how beautiful the coral reef was, I didn’t hear much after “squoze”.
The moment the word left his mouth, there was a lurch in my stomach. Did I hear that right?
I tried to remain calm and not give myself away. I looked at Judah. He seemed unmoved.
I love words. I love making up words. I love it when people misspeak. I love the duplicity of meaning with language.
What a great word! So satisfying to say.
I was pretty sure it wasn’t a real word. My stomach was a-flutter with excitement at this new and glorious word.
I have no idea how much longer Geddes stayed or what else he may have said. I was honestly a little eager for him to hit the road so I could ask Judah if he’d heard it too.
The second the door closed behind our guest, I turned to Judah.
“Did you hear him say ‘squoze’?”
“What?” he asked with an inquisitive half-laugh.
I was giddy with anticipation.
“Squoze! He said the divers took their oxygen tanks off and SQUOZE through the tiny opening to get to the coral reef!”
Judah thought maybe he’d heard it, but it hadn’t stuck out to him like it had to me. But he agreed it was a pretty great word all the same.
We looked it up, and it is not, in fact, a real word.
This has not kept us from incorporating it into our vocabulary.
We decided the verb tense progression would go squeeze, squaze, squoze. Naturally.
Would you like some fresh-squoze orange juice?
Wow! He just squoze right by me!
I mean, when making up language, there really are no rules. One can use the words however one chooses.
This one simple word has brought so much joy to so many lives. I share this story often, especially with people who love words. It always gets a hearty laugh followed by a string of sentences utilizing this newfound gift.
Geddes had no idea he was vastly improving my life.
A couple years after Geddes gifted us with this grammatical error, Judah and I found ourselves stuck outside, in the middle of summer, waiting for a ride after seeing an incredible dance production by Pilobolus. Technically, the venue was in a hard-to-get-to location in Queens, so the theatre provided a shuttle from the theatre to the nearest train station. We missed the first shuttle, so we were standing outside the theatre, waiting for what seemed like an unnecessarily long time.
We were hot, ready to be home, and getting slightly annoyed at how long the car was taking to come back to get us.
If memory serves, the inciting incident was some passed gas.
Ex-quaze me. That just squoze out.
And we were off!
We spent the next 10-15 minutes cracking ourselves up, creating sentence after sentence using tenses of squoze.
I think we could have squoze ourselves into the car if the people in the backseat would just squaze over.
What started taking a turn toward the frustrated, ended up with us in tears because we were laughing so hard.
We did not gain Geddes as a forever friend, but his memorable mistake in using “squoze” has become the stuff of legends.