As we stop at the light, that’s the first meaning I extract from the capital-free and runtogetherword on the poster partially visible through the car window. Cool what? Cool treats, like the old Dairy Queen ads? I crane my neck to read a little more.

cool re

Odd. Can “cool re” be the start of a phrase in English? I wouldn’t have thought so. Something else must go along with the “re.” I crane some more. What will it be?

cool re droom

So is re-droom one word, like re-dress, re-count, and re-place? I mean, I’m kinda outta the loop, hip-wise, so maybe it’s something I don’t know about, but should. Or was I right the first time, and “re” stands alone? In that case, what the heck is a droom? I shake my head.

As the car moves ahead, I finally see the whole runtogetherword at once.


And the penny drops. Cool Red Room. Ah. And d’oh.

But I miss whatever content goes along with that visually compelling but still obscure topic line, because I’ve been busy deciphering the runtogetherword, having gotten off on thewrongfoot.

I admit it can look cool, this runningtogetherthing. Maybe I missedthememo about cooltrumpingclarity in communication these days. Or was there an announcement that coolmattersmorethanquick? What an uncooldroom am I, eh?


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8 Responses to Runtogetherwords

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Haveagoodday, Isabel!

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    It happens even with regular words, you know. When I was younger, I read “misled” as “misl-ed” as if it had something to do with mistletoe. And I heard of a budding entomologist who took a book out of the library thinking it was about moths. It was called “Advice for Young Mothers.”
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – I thought this activity of breaking a string into words, or breaking a word into its meaningful syllables was called parsing, but an exceedingly quick look at a few online dictionaries does not support that thought. So I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s an essential part of what we do when we read, I think – and its relatively rare failure is super disorienting. Young moth-ers indeed.

  3. It is part of the texting phenomenon — saving characters. The young can probably easily read runon words, like Egyptian hieroglyphic paragraphs on marble plinths, if not cursive!

    There will be a need for our generation as translators.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – See, I blamed the ascendancy of graphics artists over the content creators (and it did look cool), but you have a point. Missing spaces, missing characters – who cares?

  4. Marilyn Smith says:

    Isabel, this reminded me of James Joyce’s ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ (1939) — which I admit I have not read but has always intrigued me. See Now I may never read it! Meanwhile, out of curiosity I googled coolredroom — it’s a hair salon on Kent! Oh the subliminal power of visual marketing! And reading it again, it brings to mind Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ and ‘redrum’. And speaking of letters, I am working on today’s “Spelling Bee” in the NYTimes and trying to make words out of P E N I W H L which must include the letter W and you have to make one word with all the letters and I just realized I could make ‘pinwheel’ so thank you!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Marilyn – Yes, I, too, have successfully avoided Finnegan’s wake and many other literary classics. Your spelling bee allows you to add letters, does it? Otherwise, you’re short an “E” for pinwheel. Amazing what the subconscious will do, given a chance.

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