“Don’t you call my cat a quadruped!”

The title of this post comes from one of the really stupid things a former housemate said…

“He’s got four feet, doesn’t he?” I replied after he shouted at me.

“Yeah.  So what?”

“That’s what quadruped means — four-footed.  It isn’t an insult.  It’s like saying a human is a biped.”

“No!”  Housemate fumed for a moment; he did that a lot.  “Why do you even know that?  It serves no purpose for you to know that!”  That was one if his favorite complaints:  It serves no purpose for anyone to know that.

don’t like people who think there’s something wrong with having an education, especially people who are educated themselves but think ‘knowing stuff’ is bad.  Housemate was — hypothetically, at least — educated; he had already attended university for a few years and was continuing to take classes.  He was intelligent, too (although you’d never know it from how he acted most of the time).  That could have been part of the problem: I didn’t seem like an idiot compared to him.  Suddenly, life was not fair!  How dare fate give one person both above-average height and more brains than a slightly dead hamster?  Tall people are supposed to be stupid, because Life Is Fair.  Smart people are supposed to be ugly, because Life Is Fair.  Guys who are shorter than average are supposed to be… exceptionally endowed and popular with women, because Life Is Fair.

I violated his worldview just by existing.  (That happens a lot, I’ve noticed.  I think it’s funny.)

“Tell ya what,” I said to him, “I promise never to call you a biped.  Okay?”

It took him the better part of a week to realize he’d been insulted.


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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8 Responses to “Don’t you call my cat a quadruped!”

  1. svrtnsse says:

    I think this sort of calls back to the comment from a while back about not using big words. I know what a quadruped is, but it’s not a term I use in my day to day speech. It feels too scientific for me to us in casual talking.
    I read a story a friend of mine wrote about werewolves and vampires and she liked to use the term biped a lot. It didn’t work for me. It felt like she was using the word to be fancy and show off, rather than as a part of her natural voice.


    • I guess I need to work harder at nerfing my everyday vocabulary so my real voice sounds natural.

      The problem, though, wasn’t that Housemate thought the word ‘quadruped’ was too big/fancy/scientific. The problem was that he thought it was an insult of some kind.


      • svrtnsse says:

        I hear you – figuratively speaking.

        I wasn’t complaining about your voice/choice of words, but I guess it might have come off as that. If the words fit naturally in the flow of how you write, then by all means, use them. It’s when you’re uncomfortable with them and it shows through in your writing that you should be concerned.


  2. When I see big words in someone’s writing, I feel that it’s a compliment to my intelligence: the writer believes that I know those words. Most of the time I do know them, but on the rare occasion that I don’t, I have no problem with consulting my dictionary or thesaurus: I learn something new, and my vocabulary is the richer for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mei-Mei says:

    Hahaha how long did that housing arrangement last? I hope not long, for your sake.
    I can’t imagine not knowing what a “quadruped” is, but then it “serves a purpose” for me to know that as I’m a biologist and work with quadrupeds daily.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mara Fields says:

    Nice snippet which gives me a feel for the author, and creates a picture of Housemate quickly and well. I used to be accused of reading the dictionary when I was a kid…thing was, they were right.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I still read the dictionary occasionally, but only because I get distracted when looking up a specific word and go chasing down all the related terms because I’m interested in the nuances of language. (I’m not SUPPOSED to be interested in the nuances of language; I’m supposed to be incapable of understanding such things, because autism. *rolls eyes* Whatever. Humans are weird, but eventually I will at least learn how to speak in a way that allows me to pass for one.) The little side-bar entries on word origins — those are my real weakness.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m constantly reading. And I loved your comment that you violated his world view by existing.
    Anyone who defies the prevailing dogma is suspect…


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