My friend David mentioned sui generis, in an email…an adjective meaning, of its own kind..unlike any other…inspiring me to write about it.
I knew what it meant, since every once in a while it pops up in a book, describing someone rare and unrivaled…a Joan of Arc or a Jackie, a Cary Grant or a Trump.
Yes, applying sui generis to an individual, isn’t necessarily because you like them, it’s to simply state, he or she, is one-of-a-kind.
One could call our president, sui generis since, the world has never before experienced anyone like him, Tweeting his way through history. That alone grants him the title of Sui generis, Commander-in-Chief.
The late Mafia Don, John Gotti, was sui generis having balls the size of grapefruit.
Adolf Hitler deserved the title, trying to take over the world.
Frank Sinatra and The Beatles, The Marx Brothers and Babe Ruth.
Patti Smith in her white, ruffled poet’s blouse.
Mustn’t forget the four-legged, like Seabiscuit, who after losing 17 consecutive races and surviving a near fatal injury, came back to win the Santa Anita Handicap, the sui generis thoroughbred the Biscuit always was.
Rarely used in conversation, though sounding French, it’s Latin, a fact my ear found surprising since it brays Parisian, especially when you think of anyone with high style like a Hepburn, or my friend Ed, with his signature bowties and tipped to-the-side, Fedoras.
It can also apply to an event…something exclusive and unparalleled…the Wright Brothers taking flight. Elizabeth Taylor marrying for the 7th time….8 if you count Richard Burton twice. The birth of the internet. Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation, Ringling Brothers closing its doors…D-Day, September 11th, opening day of The Brooklyn Bridge.
John Kennedy’s inauguration speech when he said…
It’s something distinctive, unusual and singled out…peerless, poles apart…beyond compare.
Unequaled, uncommon and unsurpassed, good or bad, right or wrong.
A person marching to the beat of their own drum.
Words, they take us to such unexpected places, without ever having to pack a bag.