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What's UP?

Posted Monday, February 20, 2012, at 3:04 PM

A popular greeting in Calvertville where I grew up many years ago was, "What's up?"

For some unknown reason I recently began to ponder about the word up. Why has this small two-letter word been accorded so much meaning and status? How has it assumed so many variations and shades of quantity? That thought has caused me to think up how many ways we use up in our communication.

We seem to be hung up on up. I put up with people who irritate me realizing that they just may be putting up with me for the same reason. People say come up and see us some time.

Recently Elzy said, "You don't have to butter me up, I'll help you." Children in school are told to line up and they line up horizontally on the same level surface. It would seem that they should line up by standing on each other's shoulders, doesn't it? That would be up.

BW asked me to open up the door because she had her arms full of items and could not open up her purse to get her key. If the house is cold we warm it up to an acceptable temperature. We clean up the house so we can invite people up to entertain. We light up the house so we can see. We have friends who own a place in Florida where they spend the winter. Last spring they closed the place up when they came back to Indiana. Next winter they will open it up when they return.

I used to gas up my car then start up the engine to drive it uptown to get updated on my job requirements and thereby get up in the world. That made me a high up. Sometimes I charge up the battery so it will start up the engine. Boats, cars, trucks, power equipment, tractors, lawn mowers and airplanes are powered up, speeded up, slowed up, tied up, cleaned up, fixed up, scratched up, beat up, filled up and torn up.

Sometimes we get crossed up in following directions and get lost. Therefore, we are mixed up and confused. This probably causes us to be late and we have to hurry up to get to an appointment on time. We are told to shape up or ship out. I heard a supervisor tell a person recently that he had fouled up the entire job. OK, it was me.

Many people drink 7 Up when they are thirsty. Many times I have heard people say drink up which means to quickly, voraciously and rapaciously consume large quantities of a libation. Then they say, "You drank it all up."

At this point you are already thinking up other examples on the use of the word up. If you think up any more, call me up. I have now used up all of my knowledge about the word up. Truthfully, I have had it up to here with up. I am not up to anything right now. I cannot think up another way to use the word up. I am used up. Therefore, I take it upon myself to shut up. What's up? Nothing. Don't ask. Up to now I thought I was finished with up, but then who should knock on my door? The UPS man. I give up.

Larry Vandeventer grew up North of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School and Indiana State University. He can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or 317-839-7656. He has published six books. Contact him to purchase them.

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