The Stream: Knackered

The word knackered is a word I love that I don’t use nearly enough because A.) I’m not british, and B.) I don’t like telling people when I’m a fucking mess.

But I love the word knackered. Whenever I get super-duper tired, eyes straining to look at whatever thing it is; my body droops like a wilted flower, and my limbs get all drunk on their own sense of rebellion.

The word just pops in there, and it makes the invisible part of me start giggling, and then sighing and holding a glass of bourbon in solemn agreement.

Knackered knackered knackered knackered.

It just kinda rolls off the tongue, but in a silly meet-cute way. It feels like castinets and a stifled yawn, on the tip of a cigarette butt. I don’t know what that means, but I like the image for damn sure.

And it feels so right. It feels like the kind of word that comes with a friend on a beat-up couch in a middling living room; it feels like the yellow tempur-pedic mattress cover that hides underneath the flowers on your couch that are sticking out because the thing is so damn ancient, upholstery is kind of a joke.

It sounds like the smell of smoke drifting in the night-air at a bar where the primary source of light is rayon, in various colors; arrayed to look like naked ladies. It sounds like the feeling of a woman’s breath on your ear in the dark, as you try to get some sleep in the middle of the night. It sounds like teeth that haven’t been brushed in a while, but wouldn’t hurt to do so.

It sounds like exhaustion.

I am knackered right now. This isn’t because I did any strenuous work, but because I got very sick today. I was in summer cold mode, and the soreness of my tendons felt like the wrong kind of massage. I only just remembered that I know that term, because it’s such an oddball term of non-meaning.

It’s not even a word destined for immortality. Hell, it’s not even an american english word. It’s just a word that I heard on some british tv show that sounds like the American Mispronunciation of Aunt; that sounds like it can only be said in exasperated tones.

And sometimes, you just can’t help but to be knackered. Life can be a treadmill continuing on and on and on. And you go, because you have to, but you also take it slow, because you don’t want to get crushed.

It sounds like some irish twaht complainin’ about his life and his need for a drink…I’m an asshole.

Knackered sounds like a lot of things. And I enjoy it for that reason. Because it has a perverse sense of logic. It’s almost onomatopoeia…fuck that’s a hard word to spell.

It’s not like some slang, that just makes no sense. It’s not like…oh, I don’t know…lit? I mean, yo, I get it, “it’s on fiyah”, but it doesn’t have that same visceral quality.

But, then again, Knackered is kinda ugly too.

It clicks and rhotics and does what it shouldn’t, for no good reason. It’s a symptom of things that suck, and it reflects them. It gets repetitive running the marathon in my mind that’s already been quelled in the quiet of a long day.

And it can be annoying too. Maybe I want to hear a prettier word, a word that suggests something beautiful. A word that looks like kind of spherical, or has a helical quality to it. Maybe some days I just want to kinda…you know, be pretty. My hair not get covered in exhaustion that makes it refract light in those ugly ways. Makes it look beautiful. Adds the right kind of luster.

Sometimes, exhausted feels more just, more dignified. To be exhausted is something stately. A hard day of decision making done, and quiet. To be lugubrious isn’t quite exhausted, but more elaborately funny.

But back to exhausted. Exhausted is a man who prematurely gray’s, knowing about what Ayn Rand only ever dreamed could shrug. Exhausted is the silent walk with rigid shoulders, and stern determination. it’s the lines that have carved themselves out of the years, the weathered spots in the skin that you make an effort to forget, because you have shit to do. Exhausted is the responsible knackered.

I feel like Exhausted walks in with a business suit, and looks at Knackered sprawled out on the couch with a join hanging from it’s grim caked fingers. Belly prominent and poking out slightly, as it snores to some forgotten 80’s glam rock gig.

–Wake up, it says

The room is dingy, but Exhausted doesn’t mind too much. It just needs a place to sit and think. Knackered..snoring…obviously…gets up, blinks, rubs its long greasy hair, fingers picking weirdly. It rubs its face downwards with the long hard sorrow of another day gone. Exhausted is too formal to ask to sit. But knackered looks at him.

Exhausted sits in an easy chair, looking at the sad orange light from a lamp, watching the day end.

–Does it ever get any easier, Exhausted asks

–Not if we’re here.

–How do you get off being so casual?

–It’s not like I had a choice, where I was born

–Just because you were born one way, doesn’t mean you’ll stay there

–Undo that tie, you look exhausted.

–And you look Knackered, my friend.

And then Exhausted breaks open a cool beer, before laughing hysterically at the absurdity of it all.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *