The downside of writing a weekly column is that it is entirely possible to miss experiencing life. What I mean by this is I am so busy thinking of whether every conversation, sight or smell might possibly be fodder for a column, I do not absorb life directly but rather through the filter of a columnist. It’s a bit like the tourist who never puts down the camera and only witnesses life through a lens.
A few months ago, I was leaving an event and standing in line next to me, also waiting for her car, was Shivani Patel, the assistant editor of this very Malibu Times. While we waited, a third person got into her car and shouted to the assembled, “Toodaloo,” and I started to think, “What a great idea for a column.” As I mused, Shivani said, “You are thinking of a column.” I must be quite transparent, and Shivani, in addition to be an excellent editor, must also be a great mind reader.
The problem is that I have spent the past few months thinking of what to do with “toodaloo.” For reasons I can’t begin to explain, certain words grab me and don’t let go. It’s like one of those catchy tunes that you just can’t get out of your mind, no matter how hard you try.
The derivation of “toodaloo” is perhaps the misspelling of the French expression “a tout a l’heure,” meaning “see you later.” I love the sound of “toodaloo.” It has a musical, light, fluffy quality unlike such somber words for goodbye like farewell or adieu (to God).
We have an unlimited number of synonyms for parting, such as “bye-bye,” “have a nice day,” or “so long.” We even pilfer words from other tongues. Everybody knows what “adios,” or “arrivederci” means.
There are even neutral words that go both ways, such as “sholom” or “ciao.” I don’t know why we don’t have a go-both-ways word, although if somebody were to leave your home shouting “howdy,” we would probably have them institutionalized.
Breakfast cereals also get into the act with “cheerio,” to say nothing of movie partings--“Hasta la vista, baby.” Even the animal world gets involved: “See you later, alligator. In a while, crocodile.”
If I were to have a tombstone, which I most certainly do not want, then I would have engraved on it “toodaloo,” but if the cost of the engraving were too much, I would happily settle for “ta-ta.”
You cannot imagine my relief in no longer trying to figure out what to do with toodaloo.