If you typed the sentence below into a blank page in Word document on your laptop, one word would come up with a red line under it, telling you to check your spelling because it’s unknown to the internal Word dictionary. If you tried to play that same word in Wordfeud or any of the online scrabble-type games, it would reject that word as “not a word.” Here’s the sentence:
Last night my son Samuel came home from a tech meetup and told me there had been some randos there.
Did you guess which word I mean?
“Some randos?” I said to him. From the context I guessed: “You mean random people?” He smiled. “Randos?” I repeated.
“Yeah,” he said, still smiling. Clearly I am so out of it that my ignorance is amusing. “Random people who show up who don’t necessarily belong.” To prove his point, he said, “I’ll show you in the slang dictionary.” He put rando in a google search. “Oh!” he said, “not the slang dictionary. Merriam-Webster!”
Indeed, rando is a word, randos being the plural. From the Merriam-Webster page https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rando:
Who knew? Obviously I didn’t. According to M-W, “The first known use of rando was in 2003.” Ah, a millennial word. To further his amusement and my education, he then pulled up a song on youtube that humorously includes much of the millennial lingo. To further yours, I humbly suggest checking out Millennial Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUendT_dGks&start_radio=1&list=RDMUendT_dGks
New words enter the lexicon all the time. Notice “meetup” in the original sentence about randos. Why can’t young people say they are going to a meeting? Because when young people want to gather in a group, they don’t meet. They don’t meet together. They meet up. The verb in “Let’s meet up” turned into the noun in “I’ll see you at the meetup.” I myself would be tempted to add a hyphen for the noun, as in “I’ll see you at the meet-up.” But no. Why would a millennial bother with hyphens?
Now that I am clear and settled on this new word (which somehow I missed for the last 15 years) I can reflect on the endless supply of almost everything in this world. Recipes, for instance. Just last night I was making meatloaf. I put the ingredients in a bowl. In this case, ground beef, bread softened in milk, eggs, minced red onion, parmesan cheese, fresh chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
I mixed it all together and found that it was a little too wet. I added a handful of (dry) old-fashioned oats. It was still too wet so I added another handful. This made it just right. A long time ago I had a recipe book that used oats to “stretch” the meat the way my mom had always used leftover bread. I always thought oats were a good idea, as in more “pure” (one ingredient instead of everything that’s in the bread), more natural, more fiber. But while going through my pantry yesterday I had found some dried old bread and thought to use it up with the ground meat I had thawed the day before. But when I had added milk to soften it, I’d added too much, thus the need for more stretch ingredients, i.e. the oats.
I shaped two thin loaves (so it would bake faster, I was hungry) and baked it in a very hot oven (450, I was hungry) which also gave it some crispiness. The meatloaf came out great, even if meatloaf never really looks that great.
I thought about sharing my meatloaf recipe and was constructing the ingredient list and preparation steps in my mind when I realized that, well, normally I don’t put minced red onion in. I just happened to have one already peeled in my fridge and it stared at me when I went in for the eggs.
Also I would normally use oats, not bread, for reasons above. But I used the bread yesterday because there it was. A lot of people, including my mom whose meatloaf is fabulous every time, use bread and that’s okay. She squeezes hers to get the excess moisture out, and I think uses water instead of milk to soak it in.
If you don’t have fresh parsley, dried will serve.
How many eggs? Two or three per pound of meat? That depends on 1. how moist you like your meatloaf and 2. how big your eggs are. Mine from the silkies and d’uccle are very small, so I would have used three if I had not poured too much milk on the bread.
I like to use the “meatloaf mix” you can get in the meat case at the store, where they grind up beef, veal and pork together and package it specifically for meatloaf, but that’s not what I had taken out of my freezer, so yesterday’s was just beef.
My sister Lynn makes a stiffer mixture, flattens it out, puts stuff inside (I can’t remember: salami? cheese? cut up veggies?) and rolls it up before baking the loaf. This is always delicious.
Some people bake their meatloaf in a loaf pan. I prefer a freeform elongated football. A very skinny football if I’m very hungry.
My point is: There are endless ways to make meatloaf just as there are endless new words and new expressions in our lexicon.
Go to the greeting card section of any store that sells them. There are endless ways to say Happy Birthday or I’m so sorry for your loss.
Decide to build a porch on your house. There are endless ways to design it (not all of them sensible, feasible or economical, I grant).
Watch the political campaigns happening around you. There are endless ways to say Here’s why you want to vote for me.
Check out Blue Planet II on amazon. There are endless kinds of sea creatures with endlessly different shapes, colors, habits, habitats, diets, methods of survival, ways of caring for their young, levels of ugliness or cuteness. There’s fire spouting from mountains under the sea. Sperm whales rest vertically!
It would be easy to be overwhelmed by the endless newness and the endless variety, and maybe sometimes we are. But mostly I hope we marvel at the richness of the world and count our blessings that there is always something new to learn. We are never done learning. We never should be.
Who knows? The next meatloaf might be even better than this one was!