“Who’s stoned? I am merely traveling incognito.”

The ancient Greeks and Romans knew that there were times when you didn’t want to be recognized. For example, a myth tells how Zeus and Hermes visited a village incognito and asked for lodging. The apparently penniless travelers were turned away from every household except that of a poor elderly couple named Baucis and Philemon, who provided a room and a feast despite their own poverty. The Romans had a word that described someone or something unknown (like the gods in the tale): incognitus, a term that is the ancestor of our modern incognito.

Source: Incognito | Definition of Incognito by Merriam-Webster

Neely O’Hara (so not incognito), as portrayed by Patty Duke, on one of her various binges in Valley of the Dolls.

Eliot Fremonth-Smith of The New York Times said of Jacqueline Susann’s writing, “Her formula is action, movement. Her books just zip along. They’re terrible, but they go.

They certainly did. Susann’s novel, Valley of the Dolls sold, to date, over 30 million copies.

Yet, the critics at the time seemed to be in consensus. The cult classic was panned at its outset:

Scathing. “A penny-dreadful plot…

I love that so I’ll repeat it minus the hyphen, penny dreadful.

Thank you Merriam-Webster for supplying me with more words that had their origin in 1861, and which are so very appropriate for the march toward Halloween, such as:

bone-chilling, electrotherapy

offstage, piranha

private detective, tribalism

unidentified — and, I have to add this one from 1860 — anesthetist

I think you could write quite the seasonal story with those simple prompts.

Don’t you just love the dictionary!

P.S. Of course I’ve seen the Valley of the Dolls movie. Have I read the book? Well, now I guess I’d better…





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