Tales from a Misinformed Dictionary – Sudorific

Sudorific: Sudorific evolved from two words, “suds,” meaning the lather one creates from mixing soap with water, and “orifice,” meaning a mouth, or some such bodily cavity, or in layman’s terms, “opening.” Thus, the earliest definition of sudorific was “soap suds in mouth,” occasionally useful as a threat to the wayward child. However, as the centuries passed and the word “terrific” fizzed into popularity, “sudorific” came to mean “truly outstanding suds.” Both definitions continued in use, then gave way as a slang term gained currency in street talk, i.e.: “incredibly cool beer, dude.” German psychologist, Helmut Himmelspachendorfindoppelgangerfenstermacher coined the related term, “pseudorific,” after downing fourteen sudorific beers at the Schweinhund Cafe in Heidelberg. Pseudorific means, loosely translated, “Something one expects to be remarkably good, but is a pale imitation. Like sweet smelling soap with dud suds. Or flat, sudless beer.”

Mickey O’Hara was in trouble. He’d come to work in the mailroom under the influence, although no one could figure out just what influence he came to work under. But one look at his strange, shambling gait as he stumbled into a movable mail bin, sending it careening into his supervisor, Ned Shned, and his condition was obvious. “Oops, sorry, man,” said Mickey.

Ned was immediately aware of the sudorific bubbles leaking out of Mickey’s ears, a sure sign of sudorific imbibing. Ned was about to send Mickey home to sleep it off, when he thought better of it. He was extremely tired of pseudorific sudorific bubbles and pseudorific sudorific beer. The real stuff was unfailingly scarce since the economy went down some tubes or other only to spew out a month later as a confounding morass of political pabulum. Now everything was black market. You couldn’t buy a bar of soap worth its salt (unfortunately the pseudorific types were made of nothing but salt, which irrigated the skin – or was it irritated, Ned could never remember which). You couldn’t buy a beer without gagging on its pseudorific flavor, which always reminded Ned of strained sock juice. He pulled Mickey aside and pretended to be examining the postmarks on a batch of envelopes. Feeling damp around the edges, Mickey whipped out a Kleenex to wipe the suds off his shoulders. They both felt the intensely curious stares of the other workers in the room. Even the mail sorting machines seemed passingly interested. Ned Shned spoke first. “Uh, Mick, uh, where did you, uh, you know…”

“You mean?”


“Well, I…”



“Uh huh.”

“Or you could…”


Hannah Holepunch, the office manager, known for her ability to slice four hundred pages at a time with the paper cutter, came to the rescue and as always, cut right to the quick. “Stop this dilly-dallying, higgledy-piggledy, wishy-washy, mollycoddling, comme ci comme ca speechifying,” she cried, although no one had the faintest idea what she meant. However, the two men immediately stopped hemming and hawing. “WHERE’S THE SUDS?” Hannah asked. “Tell me right now or I’ll stick you in a padded envelope and mail you to a padded cell where you’ll never see the light of day again.”

Mickey turned nearly as white as one of the envelopes in Ned’s hands, although he was sure that only in fiction does anyone ever actually turn white as a sheet, and of course this wasn’t fiction, but reality…wasn’t it? “On the outskirts of town there’s a little night spot,” he said.

“No there isn’t,” said Hannah. “That’s the beginning of an old song. Don’t you fool with me.”

He tried again. “Out in the west Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a…”

“That’s another song! Tell me or else!”

He tried once more. “In a little border town, way down there in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.”

“You’re getting closer, but that’s still a song.”

When Hannah wielded her staple gun, Mickey finally caved in. “O.K. Go left on Central Avenue, down Pleasant two blocks and enter the second green door in the non-descript yellow shack with blue shutters shaped like one of the great pyramids.”

“You call that non-descript?”

Mickey nodded. “You got it. That’s where the suds are, the most sudorific suds ever found in this here land.”

“Music to my ears,” said Hannah, flying out of the room. Letters fluttered, packages fell, and a leaning tower of postcards toppled, as the room emptied, leaving Mickey alone. A strange gleam lit his eye as well as the small silver flask he pulled from his pocket. Was the gleam pseudorific or sudorific? No one ever found out. No one ever saw Mickey again, though rumor has it he’s fallen in love in a little border town in West Texas at a little night spot on the edge of…”

Actual meaning: causing or inducing sweat.

%d bloggers like this: