Excerpt from a New Book 17

DEC 29th

If you ask me, and I think I’ve got a point here, there really is no satisfactory word for an inhabitant of Greenwich, Connecticut.  More often than not, residents limit themselves to being called “people from Greenwich”.  In fact, whenever anyone from this town gets to a point where they have to refer to themselves, their mouths make funny faces as if they are experiencing the initial effects of stroke and they struggle to come up with something natural.  The problem is there isn’t one.  It’s that simple.  Which doesn’t mean there haven’t been attempts.  It’s just that the ones that exist as candidates are hardly ever used if at all, and when they are, sound utterly ridiculous.

      For example, I’ve heard “Greenwicher” before, but that comes across as more like a kind of Bavarian sausage than anyone who plays golf with any consistency, so that simply won’t cut it.  Too unsophisticated.  REJECTED.  You can also try “Greenwichian”, which actually refers to a person from the famed borough inLondonand home of the Royal Observatory, the Greenwich Meridian and all that.  That may be just fine and dandy for the folks over there in England, but to me it uses one or two too many syllables in it.  It’s the “ichian” part.  It’s a mouthful.  Just doesn’t flow right.  Try it.   REJECTED.  Back in lower Connecticut, the most common word used to allude to a local is “Greenwichite”, which I simply cannot stand and will not stand for.  It comes across as a mix between a name for a hard rock surface you use for your kitchen counter and a debutante at a cotillion in Memphis.  I’m sorry, it just doesn’t work for me.  REJECTED BIG TIME.

       The main problem with all of these, as I see it, is one of phonetics.  It’s those two last letters “ch” at the end of the name which make anything added on at the end sound awkward, forced and out of place, like the way I try to dance salsa.  If it weren’t for that pair of letters, life would be a lot easier, but alas all inspiration had abandoned me. There must be some kind of solution.

         Well, I gave it some thought, and it didn’t take me long to come up with a snappy alternative.  I propose something radical like changing the “ch” to a “g” and saying something like “Grenwegian”, pronounced /grenwedjien/.  You know, like from Glasgow to Glaswegian….Greenwich to Grenwegian.  Now that’s what I call a word!  It gives it that Old World distinction, it’s got character, it’s got build, and yet it’s sonorous and elegant at the same time.  And what the hell, it just has a nice ring to it.  So, “Grenwegians” of Greenwich, stand up for your rights!

       Let’s give it a test.  Am I a Grenwegian?  Not by birth, I’m afraid to say.  Close, but not quite.  I have to admit this before anyone has any misgivings or calls me out as an imposter.  My father is from Meriden, Connecticut, and my mother fromDavenport,Iowa.  They met in New York in the 50s and started a family there.

       Then in 1962 (I wasn’t around yet) they moved out toGreenwichwhere she continued to populate the state.  My mother’s doctor did not join us though, so whenever it was time to deliver, mom would pack her bags and make a trip back into Manhattan to have a baby.  It was a hospital with one of the silliest names around, Doctors’ Hospital.  After that, it was back to Greenwich a few days later, or however long it took.  I took a little longer and hung out in an incubator – you can tell I had difficulty adjusting to the world from an early age. The minute I found life tolerable, we headed out to Connecticut.  So, I am.  I say that because that’s where my family lived and that’s the only place I ever lived throughout my childhood.  My family lived inGreenwich, so that is where I am from.  I am a Grenwegian.

      I just recently learned that Doctors’ Hospital no longer exists, by the way, which is kind of a bummer because no one likes to see the place they were born in razed to the ground, but I guess worse things could have occurred.  It could have been razed while I was being born.  Before it was reduced to rubble, it was sold to the Beth Israel Medical Center in 1984 and then resold to a developer in 2004, who quite promptly demolished it to make way for some of the most select apartments around.  The average 3-bedroom apartment has an asking price of something like $6 million.  I don’t care if the fact I was born there has incremented the land’s value tenfold, I can’t imagine anyone forking over that kind of dough for a flat.  All the same, I am able to find something symbolic in it all, I suppose.  At least, I should.

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