|CATTUS TROPHY: (Cat in Latin is cattus)|
It works for me. When something is, for example, going along just right; or fits a situation perfectly, it’s as “good as bread.”
Tom wasn’t a writer. He was raised on a farm in the Ottawa Valley then moved to my hometown of Sudbury where he and my mom had 10 kids and he and his brother Ed ran a transportation business.
But I sure get that notion of coming up with something everybody says.
What’s more, I have a similar plan.
Get this: One of the really great aspects of my job at The Lawyer’s Daily is that I learn new words regularly, almost every week..
And once this mind-numbing quarantine ends and my brother Eddie can come visit again, I’m going to clobber him at Scrabble. Last week, I learned the word quango. A few days before that? Homologate? Like I said. New. Words. Regularly.
But that is not the point of my story.
My point is I have a word-related ambition like Tom’s. And it is as follows:
Not long ago, one of the brilliant lawyers I have the opportunity to work with told me about the Latin legal phrase “mutatis mutandis."
If you’re already familiar with mutatis mutandis, you are not invited to that aforementioned Scrabble game with Eddie. Ha ha. But I sure didn’t know what it meant until the lawyer, Lawrence David, explained it to me.
It’s one of those phrases that you like the sound of even before you know what it translates to: “moot-tattis moo-tandus.” Disney could write a song around it.
Here’s the plan. I have made it a COVID-19 project to drag mutatis mutandis out from the shadows of the courtrooms and into the street.
The world needs--especially because of that thing that’s going around--mutatis mutandis. I want to make it as popular as a few other foreign-language phrases that have migrated over; like, say, ad nauseum, Or pro bono even.
So now you’re like “Peter, would you kindly Tell ME WHAT IT MEANS BEFORE I COME OVER THERE TO SLAM THAT COMPUTER CLOSED!”
Here’s Wikipedia on the matter: “Mutatis mutandis is a medieval Latin phrase meaning 'having changed what needs to be changed or once the necessary changes have been made.’”
And here’s Pete’s Blog&Grille on how it works vis-a-vis (another!) COVID-19: Last week, my neighbour Chrissy Lumley invited me to play Scrabble but because we’re all holed up, we can’t visit so we’d have to play online. The Scrabble game could take place but we wouldn’t be able to eat pizza and drink beer while playing. So we would play--I hope you’re paying atttention here--mutatis mutandis. (Though if Chrissy reads this and finds out I know words like quango and homologate she might rescind the offer. But I digress)
Here’s more mutatis mutandis.
At my office, every Thursday at lunch time, a small group of us used to assemble in one of the larger meeting rooms and--under the guidance of another staffer named Harpreet who happens to be a trained meditation teacher--we meditated for half an hour. For the record, it’s one of the most memorable and refreshing ways I’ve ever spent a lunchtime.
Except then COVID showed up and we all had to scurry home, which is where I work from now.
But we still, every Thursday, meditate mutatis mutandis.
Instead of sitting beside a much younger and fitter colleague, I sit alone in my son Michel’s old bedroom, which is now my office and here’s an upside: I don’t feel the slightest bit self-conscious.
We may be enduring one of the weirdest time periods of a generation, but I think we’re most of us learning how resilient we can be.
I also happen to think COVID-19 is making us appreciate little things more. I'm writing this on Good Friday, and almost every commercial operation in town is locked up tight. Tomorrow, things will be a lot looser, so at least we can line up at the store, even if we do have to put on a mask when we go in.
We’re taking less stuff for granted and that has to be good.
Normal life continues, mutatis mutandis.
Not bad, eh?
One more thing: I asked another lawyer that I work with if he had any ideas for spreading the news about this fabulous phrase mutatis mutandis. (I sometime wonder if my co-workers think I'm weird.)
He very wisely suggested engaging the services of a platform that has far more credibility than Pete’s Blog&Grille, and that’s Iris the cat. Then he suggested the version you see on the sign up there.
He also requested anonymity. The mans’s got a reputation to uphold, after all.
I like the folks I work with. They’re good as bread.