The Almost Emergent Interviews Show
Interviews with people who are on the verge of coming into view (or not).
This is a series of interviews with people you’ve most likely never heard of, and other than on this blog, likely never will, again. These virtual mortals are not real, but they might be. Their names have not been changed because they are figments of my imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Today’s guest is Herb Shakespeare, the founder and proprietor of an online business called, “Herb’s Verbs.” It’s a simple business. He sells verbs. If you could see Herb, you’d notice that he parts his brown hair straight down the middle, wears John Lennon glasses, and sweater vests that have seen better days. He has a friendly smile with a slight overbite and when we shake hands, I notice they are clammy. As soon as we sit and I hit “play” on my tape recorder, he blows his nose in a well-used, yellowed handkerchief. I excuse myself to the restroom and vigorously wash my hands. And, so we begin:
TAEI: The most obvious question that comes to mind is, and I’m sure you hear this a lot, but are you related to The Bard?
TAEI: The Bard of Avon? William Shakespeare?
HS: Oh. No. (laughs) Not really. Actually, I’m a very distant relative of Shakespeare’s contemporary, Hugh Shakeshaft. But when my great-great-grandfather emigrated to the United States, and settled into Stratford, Connecticut, he changed the name to Shakespeare.
TAEI: Was your great-great-grandfather in the arts that he chose such a famous name?
HS: No, unfortunately, he was a scalawag, drunk and a thief. In his rebellious teens, he was often arrested for having sex in the upper balcony of the old Park Theater in New York.
TAEI: Yes, of course. Well, let’s talk about your business. What prompted you to sell verbs?
HS: In a former life, I sold used cars. It was a tankless job. (He snorts. Then reaches for his handkerchief).
TAEI: But, of course.
HS: Anyway, I figured everyone needed a car, right? I soon learned that was a faulty assumption. Plus, when someone bought a car it might be years again before they returned to get another one. Then, one day after my Yugo broke down on the highway and I was walking home, at dusk, mind you, it dawned on me. Everyone speaks. And they need words, the right words. And, it’s verbs that make the world go round. You seeing the logic here?
TAEI: Can’t mistake it.
HS: And, Eureka! It just so happens that verbs rhyme with my name. Get it? I was drawn to its poetic nature, like a moth to a flame.
TAEI: Sounds hereditary.
HS: Yes, I think so.
TAEI: Tell me, Herb, what’s the market for verbs these days?
HS: To tell you the truth, I’m not exactly sure. You see, just in the English language, alone, it’s been estimated there are thousands of regular, irregular and auxiliary verbs, and more are created annually. Ka-ching! (He animates like he’s just won the daily double in Vegas). So, the supply is seemingly endless, not to mention the pure profit we enjoy from the re-sale of verbs.
TAEI: You can re-sell verbs?
HS: Oh, yeah. You know, people get tired of using run, jump, walk, be, etc. And, they’re constantly upgrading. There’s a lot more repeat business than in selling used cars, I tell you.
TAEI: What’s a verb going for these days?
HS: A basic verb will run you a buck. Used to be a quarter, but times are a-changin’. I also offer bundles of verbs, like buy ten, get one free; or specials on holidays.
TAEI: I had no idea. So, you have created a strong business model?
HS: One would hope so. And, next year, I’m going global and will begin selling verbs in multiple languages.
TAEI: Is there a demand to buy verbs these days? I mean, after all, aren’t verbs simply sitting there on the shelf for any and all to use? Why would anyone buy the buggers?
HS: (laughs) That’s exactly what my mother said. Actually, it was the last thing she said to me. (a tear forms under his glasses and he blows his nose). The next day she was jaywalking on Main Street when a sixteen-year-old driving a Toyota Prius suddenly had accelerator problems. Oh, God rest her soul. Anyway, if you want to get ahead in this topsy-turvy world, you gotta have verbs, lots and lots of verbs. And, may I add, you gotta get the right verb for the right occasion. Know what I mean, greenbean?
TAEI: What’s your favorite verb?
HS: I have to go with “judder.”
TAEI: What pray-tell is “judder.”
HS: It’s a great verb don’t you think? It means to shake spasmodically or vibrate conspicuously. I’ll leave that to your own imagination. But, when I see or use this wonderful verb it reminds me of my mother dancing.
TAEI: Well, that’s all the time we have today. Thank you for joining us on The Almost Emergent Interview Show. This has been enlightening.
HS: Hey! That was the verb of the month last March.
TAEI: Good night, everybody.
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