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Observing Editor

One adventuresome atom

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In the interest of promoting the vocabulary of my vast readership, I have taken it upon myself to select a word each week for illustration with copious, well-crafted examples of usage. We will begin with consideration of the word prognathous, which lends precision and gravitas to any conversation, when judiciously applied.

Our first example is taken from the second chapter of the novel Lipstick on the Jaws of Death, during an exchange between Joe Violent, private detective, and Lt. Clubman of the city police:

“There was a ruckus at the place when I arrived,” I drawled. “A blonde at the bar was being held up by the shoulders and shaken by a man wearing the largest tuxedo I have ever seen. When I remarked that I had never seen a cocktail shaken after it had been drunk, he dropped the blonde onto her stool and turned toward me. He was almost as wide as he was tall, with a head like a prognathous ape: hairy, with jaws that could crack brazil nuts. The thought gave me an idea, and it was all over in a few seconds. I signalled the waiter to call the cops as he was writhing on the floor, and turned my attention to the blonde.”

“Her hair cascaded down to her bare shoulders, and she was hunched over the bar, sobbing. Her gown was of pale blue silk, and she wore a single strand of black pearls around her throat. I put a hand lightly on her shoulder as I sat beside her, and she turned to me with tears in her eyes. They were a brilliant blue, but I was struck more by her red mouth, perched on the same underslung jaw as the gorilla’s. It was awesome, like the primary armament of an attack helicopter.”

“You notice her weapons pods, too, Joe?” leered Clubman. “Was she fully loaded?”

“Weapons pods?” I growled. “Don’t crack wise about the lady. She’s a sweet girl who’s had it rough, and she could take a punch on that jaw that would knock you silly.”

“OK, Joe, don’t get sore at me,” he said, pushing back his hat by the brim. “So what’s with the jaw, anyway?”

“Family trait, apparently. The gorilla is her brother, and a very bad boy. At first I thought it crossed up her looks, but it suits her somehow. I found out it doesn’t matter where it counts.”

“How’s that?”

“She kisses like a lamprey, my friend,” I said, reaching for my coat.

If you would like to purchase the entire work from which this thrilling passage is taken, please mail an inquiry to the Boiled Over Publishing Co., courtesy this website, and enclose a stamped envelope for reply.

Our last example is taken from the manual Proper Grooming for Gentlemen by Col. Dumfries Whitby, published by Gateau and Windlass, 1898:

The question of whiskers is one which many modern men find vexatious. One should always consider the peculiarities of one’s physiognomy before committing to growing a beard or moustache. One should strive at all times for proportion and visual harmony of elements.

A gentleman with a weak or receding chin may benefit from a full beard, if he is able to grow one. Careful trimming will emphasize the jawline and add weight to the bottom of the face, for a more distinguished appearance. However, a beard would ill-serve a gentleman of a prognathous countenance, as it would only draw further attention to the jaw. In such a case, the gentleman should consider a full moustache to strengthen the upper lip or side whiskers to fill out the cheeks, depending on where volume is required to balance the strong chin.

Truly, these observations are as useful today as when they were written.