Acoloutha: The substitution of reciprocal words; that is, replacing one word with another whose meaning is close enough to the former that the former could, in its turn, be a substitute for the latter. This term is best understood in relationship to its opposite, anacoloutha.

“The lance in my doublet sitteth well with my lady love. Her breath quickens and we retire to chambers to entwine as shameless doves.” A Wanton Idyll by Willman Shakepear.

This is my favorite quote from the bard of Birmingham. I am a professional jouster, and the passage’s reference to the “lance” always provokes my baser instincts and makes me think of my lance, holding it tight and galloping on the lists, hoping to poke my opponent’s throat with my handsome tool.

I am a knight. My father is a nobleman. I did my time as a page and a squire waiting on tables and cutting meat in Bone Dew Castle for the Earl of of Bone Dew, a member of an old Scottish family with, like most Scottish families, roots running all the way to Hell, via Edinburgh, beneath the university. My family is of Dutch origin. My great great grandfather invented the wooden shoe. Everybody thought he was mad when he first clomped down Nieuwe Hoogstraat wearing a pair, but they caught on with peasants who spent a lot of time in wet mud and needed something waterproof to avoid the foot rot caused by leather footwear. My great great grandfather was made a prince by the king of England to induce him to emigrate there and “Practice his wizardly skills to the great benefit of England.” When he left Holland he was cultivating a flower called “tulip,” but he had to leave his project unfinished due to the Dutch government’s confiscation of his plants and bulbs. He sold his patent to Carolus Clusius, who was a biologist from Vienna, and who took credit for tulip’s discovery in Turkey, which was a lie.

I am competing in a jousting match the tomorrow. I had my shield refurbished—freshening up the family crest: a painting of a wooden shoe overflowing with guilders encircled by stars on a red background. I had also purchased a new lance from Henry the Unrepentant, a new and used lance vendor. My new lance was made of a newly discovered wood that had become popular among jousters. It was called “Moohogini” and it came from the edge of the earth.

I arrived at the tournament grounds at 6:00 am. The stands were packed. There were a lot of lusty looking girls seated there, waving brightly-colored handkerchiefs around their heads. There was one waving a crimson handkerchief and looking at me. She was the one! I wanted that handkerchief so badly I was nearly crying. The bell rang and I mounted my horse Bruto. I was up against somebody named Sir Lancelot. I had never heard of him. His horse looked like it was dying. He looked like an oaf from Camden Town. The herald signaled the charge. Lancelot came at me like an ill wind, slammed me in the chest, broke his lance, and knocked me off my horse. I was seeing stars. I was done. The girl with the crimson handkerchief knelt by me and cradled my head on her bosom. She tied her handkerchief around my arm and abruptly walked over to Lancelot. They laughed together and left the lists holding hands and chattering.

I did not care. There was another tournament coming up in two days in Manchester. I would find a way to cheat. If only I could ask my great great grandfather how to cheat at jousting, I know he would come up with a plan. Maybe I should talk to Henry the Unrepentant.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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