Regular, standard or usual?
today at 9:00 am
I have been writing for ChicagoNow for more than seven years — since July 14, 2014. I’ve tried at times to write at regular intervals, such as my series on “Kindness and Wonder,” which ran on Mondays in 2020, or my series on Rudyard Kipling’s poems, which I named Kipling Tuesdays and ran on (surprise) Tuesdays in 2019.
I like to do those series sometimes as part of getting to use the word “regular” in its original sense, “arranged in or constituting a constant or definite pattern, especially with the same space between individual instances.” as the dictionary at bing.com puts it. The original word is obviously related to the French regle, or rule.
Too often in recent decades, advertisers have tried to use “regular” as a synonym” for “plain,” that word they seem to want to avoid at all costs. Do you want the advanced, decorated, fancier version, or do you want the regular one? Do you want the extras-added version, or the plain version?
I remember my father laughing when I wanted to order a regular-sized drink in a restaurant. He knew that I was thirsty enough to need a large drink on a regular basis. In other words, I usually ordered the large.
But usual is too dull, too, for most U.S. restaurants and food labels. Since I had a tooth out at the beginning of the month, I am resorting to the things I usually do after that happens, but I am not eating my usual things or eating regularly. (I eat when my mouth feels OK and stop when it doesn’t, sometimes soon. Luckily, my blender helps.)
But I still have my standards — and that reminded me last night about a favorite story from when I was traveling.
When I was leaving London after visiting my cousins, I stopped in a railway station restaurant — i.e., a train station food stand — and ordered a sandwich and chips (fries). I suppose I was concentrating on getting the chips/fries distinction settled and making sure I would get what I expected.
But then the lad behind the counter asked, “Would you like the large size or the standard size?”
I didn’t know when my next meal was coming, whatever time zone I would be in at the time, but I knew what I wanted to say.
For the sheer joy of getting to say it — for the only time I can think of saying it in my life — I said “I’ll have the standard size, please.”
I’d love to find another standard-sized offering, no matter what it is.