Gnome (nome or no’-mee): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, apothegm, maxim, paroemia, proverb, and sententia.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” “The world is satisfied with words, few care to dive beneath their surface” (Pascal). “There are no secrets in life; just hidden truths that lie beneath the surface” (Hall), or any of a bunch of sayings that worry about surfaces, and the power they have to draw you away from the truths and realities they cover, contain, conceal and decorate. But, sometimes it’s good to be led away, or distracted from the truth.

When I was nine years old a giant pustule erupted on the back of my neck. It stuck out about two inches, was bright red, and looked like a volcano. It would erupt on occasion spurting puss that had a faint, but bad, odor—something like the air around the refineries in Linden, New Jersey where we lived at the time. Not that bad, but bad. The doctor assured us it wasn’t contagious and would go away on its own in a month or so. Nevertheless, my sister wouldn’t come near me and begged my father every day to make me live in the old tool shed alongside the house. Whenever she said that to my father, I would cry and my mother would put on a pair of rubber gloves and console me.

My father started calling my pustule a “bimple” making everybody laugh, me included. I would rather be teased than shunned, so I made up a “Bimple Dance” that I would do to the tune of “Howdy Doody Time.” I would point at my bimple, hold my nose, and make a bad smell face while I rotated my hips.

Despite my malady, I still had to go to school, but I was afraid I’d be bullied, especially by Stew Contraglio the class bully. My father felt my pain and made me what he called a “Bimple Tent” cover my bimple—to conceal it. The tent was black cotton. Mom had embroidered the Brooklyn Dodgers logo on it. It tied in the front under my chin. The “tent” was formed by an empty Dixie cup, circling and sheltering and hiding the bimple’s soft volcano shape under the tent. My cover story for the tent was right out of the fifties: my neck had been probed by space aliens and I had to keep it covered at all times to block the lingering space rays. Word got out about my alien encounter, but I declined all newspaper, radio and TV news interviews due to the “anguish” I had already endured.

The bimple healed, and only my family knew about it and it’s concealment.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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