Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Let's Get Mavericky.

Words, like coastal tides, have their highs and lows, ins and outs. Thanks to a John McCain co-option, the word maverick, is in.

The first time I heard it was in the late 50's when I watched the television show of the same name. Maverick, was a comedy/western starring James Garner as Bret Maverick, a poker playing non-conformist, and brother, Bart Maverick, played by Jack Kelly. I distinctly remember asking my father what the title word meant, though I don't remember his answer.

Sarah Palin used the maverick word a dozen times in her debate with Senator Biden, hoping maybe some of that James Garner personna would stick to her partner. Saturday Night Live spoofed the debate and the word when Tina Fey said, "we are not afraid to get maverick-y in there and ruffle feathers."

Today, much more somberly, I noticed a headline describing the late Steve Fossett, adventurer and aviator, after his plane was discovered in Colorado. The newspaper called him "an aviation maverick." The word suited Mr. Fossett more than most.

I do not think the word was originally meant as a compliment. The first dictionary definition is,
"1. an unbranded range animal, especially a calf that has become separated from its mother, traditionally considered the property of the first person who brands it."
The second definition makes the anthropomorphic switch as,
"2. one that refuses to abide by the dictates of or resists adherence to a group; a dissenter."
Maverick, the show, was a favorite of mine as a child, but I think the tide is going out on maverick, the word.

1 comment:

Kenny said...

try this one Fran:

http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977467818