"My brain is full," I said.

"You still have room," my Darling Wife said.

"Not even for the dot over the small letter i," I said.

"Just a few more words," she said.

"Why do I need all these words?" I asked.

"So we can carry on a conversation, a discussion, a dialog," she said. "You don't want to stop talking, do you?"

"We can talk about other things," I protested. "I don't have a single brain cell, not even a synapse left for new words."

"Just a few," she said.

"Give me an example," I said. I shouldn't have given her the opportunity.

"Squilt," she said.

"Arggggghhhh!" I said. I have that word in my brain's dictionary.

It began, of course, when she decided to make a quilt, her first quilt. Two years before when she had resumed sewing again after twenty years off, she promised me she would never consider making a quilt.

"I'll just do normal sewing," she had said then as she danced around in her new sewing room. "I'll just sew for the grandkids," she had said. Hah!

I believed her then. I learned the new words of sewing. Hundreds of new words. Words like looper (so I could understand when she talked about her new serger). Words like topstitching and pin tucks and overlock. Colorful words like ecru and puce. Words like felling foot and sleeve easing. Words like tricot and voile and kettlecloth. Words poured out of her and I learned them so we could have a conversation, a dialog, a discussion. Whatever happened to words like lazy or food or sleep? I liked those words.

"See, you don't know what a squilt is," she said, and her tone of voice shouted that I was an ignoramus, that my future was doomed to one of stupidity and shame.

"All right," I said, "I might have room for a new word or two. But that's it. So, what's a squilt."

"A sandwich," she said coolly. She smiled and turned away from me and left the room.

Now, fortunately I am a retired man, and I have an occasional free moment to go on wild quests to try to understand what is going on in my Good Wife's life. But I knew that if I took the bait, if I took the time to find out what a squilt was, then I was in some way doomed to a life of tilting against windmills. Sewing windmills. Quilting windmills. I would never win.

So, I went to her shelf of sewing books, now widened with a plethora of quilting books, and I looked up squilt and found out that it had nothing to do with bread and mustard and turkey. It was a quilt sandwich with batting in the middle. That was word one (two if I including batting, but I already knew that one so I didn't count it).

Word two was "fat quarter," which is really two words, but DW said it only counts as one. I found out that a fat quarter is a quarter yard of fabric which measures 18 inches by 22 inches. It seemed to me, and still does, that a quarter of a yard would be, say 18 by 18 inches. But I didn't have time to think about that too long before she went on.

"Bias binding," she said.

"Is that two words or one?" I asked.

"That's two words."

"And it's binding that has a slanted viewpoint?"

"It's binding cut on a bias," she said.

"That's four words I've had to learn now," I said. It was really five by my count, but my count doesn't count.

"Your head didn't burst," she said.

"It's getting close," I said. I did feel my brain bulging.

"Log Cabin," she whispered. "You know that word, so it's not a new one."

"Where Lincoln was born?" I guessed.

"A design for a quilt," she said. Oh, she was such a smarty pants now.

"I'm done," I said. I took my swollen head in my hands and carried it to the sofa and set it down. I joined it.

"Only a few more words," she said as she sat down next to me.

"A few more altogether, or a few words for now?" I am wise to her trickery.

"A few more for now," she said honestly.

"Big words or little words?" I asked as I checked inside my brain to see what I might be able to still squeeze in.

"Just easy quilting words," she answered. "Like piecing."

"I know that word," I said. "Lots of people have pierced ears and noses. Some even read the paper."

"We're talking about quilting here," she said. "And I'm talking about paper piecing, not piercing."

"Oh, sure, paper piecing. Why didn't you just say that in the first place."

"Did you hear anything I've said?" she asked.

"I paid attention to every word," I said. "Binding, biased reporting, Lincoln logs, pieced newspapers, and squilt sandwiches to go," I said. "See I know them all."

"I could make a squilt sandwich out of your face, you know."

"I'll do better next time," I said apologetically.

"Next time you have to learn ten words," she said.

"Do I have a choice?"

She gave me her look. I took it for a "No."

"All right," I agreed. I'm no fool. She smiled and stood and left me there on the sofa as she went back to her sewing room. I decided just to sit there a while and wonder how I could make some more room in my brain. Maybe I could throw out some words I no longer needed in my life, some words I didn't use anymore. If only I could remember what they were.

Copyright 1998 by A.B. Silver

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