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This is Extraordinary

A Short Story by Stuart Greenbaum

As conceited as this sounds, I am Extraordinary. Literally, as in the word, the adjective.

Still, I am the first to admit my hyperbolic brethren get overused and misused these days. With all lazy, inarticulate, click-baiting, social communication. C’mon, is everything so awesome? Or amazing? That show is amazing. This donut is amazing. You are amaaaazing. Same for hilarious, which is particularly annoying. If it is genuinely hilarious, you should show it, prove it, don’t just say so. You should be laughing so hard you are gasping for air or milk should be squirting out your nose. That would be hilarious! But I digress.

Why, you ask, am I getting all anthropomorphic, taking this so personally, being so sensitive? Because, no one appreciates being misrepresented. After it is said and done, I am nothing if not my reputation.

Let’s break it down: Webster’s defines me, “Extraordinary,” as going beyond what is usual, regular, customary; exceptional, remarkable, astonishing. Ever since my linguistic origin in the 15th century, I have worked hard to maintain this image of being better, more — adding extra to what is otherwise plain ordinary.

If I could be so bold, please and simply use me with discretion. There are plenty of other applicable adjectives to substitute, such as uncommon and abnormal, and rare and unique. (And for everyone’s sake, let’s leave my flamboyant counterpart, extraordinaire, out of this altogether.)

Oh, and you should know this about me too. When I am broken in two, extra and ordinary, it means something was especially ordinary. Compared to when I’m whole, in which case I mean something  beyond ordinary.

My favorite self-referential usage? Easy: Farthest outer space is the most extraordinary mystery. To put on a finer (adverbial) point: It is extraordinarily humbling to try to comprehend farthest outer space. By contrast it is dispiriting, even humiliating, when I am abused. A cat playing the piano, a mixtape or playlist, any celebrity memoir, a nine-year-old yodeler or a 90-year-old tap dancer, a sunny winter day — such things are cute or curious or different, but absolutely not extraordinary.

Only that which is truly extraordinary is Extraordinary. The rest is ordinary, seasoned with a twist of this or dash of that.

Bottom line, after 600 years on the lexicon circuit I have earned my role as a legit qualifier of facts, not lame opinions. To wind up this rant, may I recommend, if you want to be Extraordinary like me, Do so, don’t just say so.


  • What an extraordinary piece!

  • Lucy Fisher says:

    Will NEVER, ever use that word again. Can’t even type it here. Quite a decent piece, Stuart.

  • Tracy J Huddleson says:

    Ouch! I hear you about the overuse of these words, especially that worn-out workhorse, “amazing;” but I must plead guilty to overuse of “hilarious.” My excuse? I am lazy enough to prefer typing one word rather than “That’s so funny.” I will do better.

  • greenbaumgpr says:

    Appreciate each of these comments — beyond the usual, exceptional even. Thanks. — Stuart

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