Houseboat Magazine

September 2009

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Page 53 of 55

notes 54 Stern notes from the In the wake of our existence are the stories of our lives. You're heard the expression, "He and his ilk." Chances are you've used it yourself. It seems lately that ilk have been getting a bad rap. You'll notice that ilk are almost always cast in a negative light. This senseless reaction to the generally harmless ilk is almost certainly grounded in fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the unusual. Fear of things that are different than what we are accustomed to. Among boaters, ilk are often the target of ridicule and aspersion. For example, the jet skier who keeps cutting across our wake when we're motoring down the lake, like a pesky mosquito relentlessly buzzing around our ears—there should be a law to deal with him and his ilk. Or the fellow who habitually goes too fast through the No Wake Zone by the dock—those of that ilk should be taught a lesson. But ilk are not necessarily all bad. Most are just different. And not everyone reacts to ilk with cold-sweating aversion; in fact, you may even have ilk of your own. Believe it or not, some people actually enjoy the company of their ilk more than they like being around us. In any case, it is important that we all try to better understand ilk, for acceptance begins with a willingness to set aside personal prejudices. Just as no one is all good, no one is all bad, and this applies equally to the much maligned and often misunderstood ilk. We in the world of boating can spotlight the way toward wide accep- tance of a greater variety of people and their ilk. To begin with, I should address the question that's almost certainly uppermost in everyone's mind, "What is the plural form of the singular noun ilk?" Surprise! It is still "ilk." Like bison, sheep, and swine, the plural is exactly the same as the singular. Well, not like swine, that's too negative and we're trying to get away from that. Let's say, "Like deer." Deer are usually nice, and potentially harmless. Although deer hunters certainly have their ilk. But then, so do vegetarians. Ilk are seldom found in the wild anymore, possibly due to the overuse of pesticides and cell phones. However, in urban environments ilk thrive, and where you find one ilk you will usually spot more. When referred to collectively (as in a "herd of cattle" or a "gaggle of geese") ilk group into what's commonly referred to as a "rabble of ilk." Due to the nega- tive connotation, however, there is a movement among ilk scholars and enthusiasts to have this officially changed to an "exaltation of ilk." So far politicians and their ilk have failed to act on the initiative. What some people refer to as "Ted and his ilk" are often found hanging around gun shows, biker gatherings, crawfish boils, UFO conventions, and sometimes even boat expos, where they've been known to actually swarm. There is no known explanation for this peculiarity of the species. Appar- ently, ilk simply enjoy each other's company. No matter what we do professionally, socially or recre- ationally, we do not generally refer to those who are like- minded as our own ilk. That is a term left for others to apply. In our minds these are our buddies, our running mates, but never our ilk. You'll notice that ilk tend to flock—or should I say "exalt"—to the misconceptions and misplaced ideals of people who do not think like us. What others call ilk, we refer to as friends and associates. They might actually be ilk, in fact they probably are, but it is considered bad form for us to refer to them that way. I have my friends, while you have your ilk, and vice versa. But in a larger sense, ilk help keep the world from being boring. It takes all kinds of people and their ilk to make this an interesting place. Little known fact, ilk are prized for their milk, yet it is expen- sive because few people know how to properly milk an ilk. Of course I am one of them, for I can milk anything—including this subject—almost to the point of death. A final word—never mistake kin for ilk. Kin are usually ilk- wannabes, but they are tied to us only by blood, whereas ilk are connected to us like our own shadows. I hope this helps us all feel more comfortable with ilk. For more information, please order my pamphlet, The Care and Feeding of Ilk, available on my website for just $5 per copy. I'm expecting all the orders from my boating ilk to make me filthy rich. Until next time when we'll discuss "negative light," My best from the Stern, Ted A. Thompson Ted A. Thompson is a freelance writer living in North Arkan- sas. He can be contacted at Understanding Ilk

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