Out The Window

The other night I was watching a new show, because, amazingly, there was no Drag Race franchise available and I’d finally finished rewatching all one thousand seasons of Seinfeld. It was a kind of cute show called Locke And Key, about a family that moves to their dead dad’s ancestral home, which turns out to be haunted and full of weird fancy keys that do assorted different things, like letting you go out one door and enter any other place you want. Although the characters were fairly archetypical and predictable, I was pretty far into the show, but after a few episodes, it started to get really dumb and illogical. Finally, during one episode, there was a showdown where (spoiler alert), the teenaged boy who killed the dad escapes from jail and comes to the family home, manages to hold the entire family at gunpoint even though there are three of them and two are bigger than him, then ties them all up. Except for the oldest son, who comes home unexpectedly, attacks the gun-wielding villain, disarming him, and punching him several times in the face. But then the villain suddenly, even though he should be comatose, manages to find a key in the son’s pocket, and how he managed to do that is a f*cking mystery, but he pulls it out, seems to instinctively KNOW that it sets sh*t on fire, and then in the pyromaniacal confusion, finds the gun which has skittered away, and has now captured the son as well. At which point, I threw the remote in disgust and changed the channel. Now, I’ve had my own novels criticized for “rushing the ending” but seriously, how drawn out does an ending have to be? I mean, git ‘er done, am I right? I’m really tired of these shows that always have to prolong the agony, and that’s why I love my new show pick, Ozark, where the villain says he’s going to do something bad, and then he literally throws a guy out an 80th story window. And I was relaying all of this at dinner on Thursday night:

Me: And then he just threw the guy out the window. Like, done.
Kate: Now that’s what I call a defenestration.
Me: Lol, he wasn’t a tree, KATE.
Kate: What?
Me: Defenestration is when you strip the leaves off something, like what Agent Orange did to the trees in Viet Nam.
Kate (laughs): No, it’s not! It’s when you throw someone out a window. You’re thinking of defoliation.
Me: (looks up definition on phone): Nah…?
Kate: Have you seriously been using defenestration this whole time as a way to explain to people that the trees have lost their leaves in the fall?
Me: Perhaps.
Kate (shakes head): Okay, English teacher.

But seriously. How the hell is there one specific word for throwing someone out the window (in fact, vocabulary.com refers to the word defenestration as “frighteningly specific”)? Like, how many people were getting regularly thrown out of windows that Samuel Johnson, inventor of the dictionary, decided we needed one word to describe that very precise type of murder? Strangulation is a type of murder, but it’s still an umbrella term for all kinds of things, like strangulation with a rope or a garotte or your hands or a defenestrated tree branch—I mean defoliated, sorry. And stabbing? Another umbrella term. You can stab someone with a knife, a fork, a sharp spoon, an ice pick, an actual umbrella, and even a defoliated tree branch, but you don’t see anyone inventing singular words for that, like—well, okay, there’s knifing, but it’s not one special kind of knife. And based on my research, you could even be stabbed by a swordfish, which I discovered when I googled “ways to die” and came across a website called Final Choices, which claims to be an “end of life planning” website but where I found an article called “Death is inevitable. How you die can be very random. Here’s a light-hearted look at strange ways to die”. And these included:

Being killed by an explosive while trying to steal a condom dispenser
An undertaker being crushed by his own coffins

Being swung by your ankles by a clown and hitting your head
Eaten by a drove of pigs

Lethal sherry enema

None of these are, in fact, light-hearted and I question the sense of humour of the website owners. Thankfully, nowhere in the list was “being overcome by chlorine gas because you put too much chlorine in the hot tub”. But apparently, approximately 24 people a year are killed by champagne corks, so where’s the word for THAT, SAMUEL?! Honestly, this website is terrifying, and proof that there are worse and more random ways to die than being defenestrated.

Anyway, Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all of you. Stay away from windows.

56 thoughts on “Out The Window

    • Having studied the 30 Years War at school I was aware of THE Defenestration of Prague but until seeing this link was unaware that the Czech’s had a bit of a reputation for chucking people out of windows and that they’d been building up to the third one. It helped kick off quite possibly the most devastating war Europe had seen and for style it beats the half-arsed but ultimately successful assassination of Franz Ferdinand (the Arch-Duke, not the band).

      Liked by 3 people

        • I have always wondered about that. Glass windows in the 17th century were expensive, so this leads to 2 possible versions:
          1) Oh my god you’re going to throw them out the window, hang on, let me get this open, the catch is a bit sticky, oh and the other one, and let me pull the curtains out of the way too, a gift from the French, ah, there you go, fling away, my friends… sorry, have I spoiled the moment?
          2) Oh my god, couldn’t you have opened them first? Look, that’s a year of my salary you’re trying to push them through. Oh for the love of Christ, he’s caught on the bent lead. Does anyone have any scissors? And I hope someone has a dustpan and brush because I have to work here you know and I don’t want glass shards in my socks.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Here are my thoughts, arranged in order of their occurrence..

    But then the villain suddenly, even though he should be comatose, manages to find a key in the son’s pocket, and how he managed to do that is a f*cking mystery, but he pulls it out, seems to instinctively KNOW that it sets sh*t on fire, and then in the pyromaniacal confusion, finds the gun which has skittered away, and has now captured the son as well.

    This is screenwriting at it’s finest. Of course, I’m being blatantly sarcastic as I write this. 😉

    Ways to die.

    I’m again reminded of my 22 years as a Firefighter and Paramedic. I should probably have my own [depressing] list of ways in which I have seen people die. Early in my career, I responded to a call where a crazy cat lady had died, and upon walking into her house, it became apparent that her cats had started eating her dead body. There was the time I responded to a call where someone had died as a result of falling down a flight of basement stairs and landing on their head; I’m not sure if it was an accident or a suicide. Another bizarre incident was someone falling/jumping off a bridge and just before they were to hit the ground below, they were struck by a moving train.

    Anyway, time to go make some coffee. Hopefully you’re enjoying your Sunday. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. brock says:

    There must be a equivalent word for it in Russian, because it happens an awful lot there. If you’ve annoyed Putin recently, you might leave your twentieth floor apartment via the window rather than a lift. Granted, that is a lot quicker, but you only do it the once.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. You know I’d be careful of what you Google my friend. If anything weird we’re to happen and you get investigated, the police will search your computer and they’d be like…..
    Police: She googled how may ways to die…..yeah cuff her and bring her in.
    You: but officer, it was read each for my books and website!
    Police: you mean you have a website that tells people how to kill? THROW THE BOOK AT HER!
    I’m just saying…..😝

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Stephen Jay Gould has a funny essay called “The Diet Of Worms And The Defenestration Of Prague” and if you got tripped up by the definition of “defenestration” imagine how many people think the first part means eating nightcrawlers. Anyway I think you’re going to enjoy Ozark. For a show with four seasons the endings are definitely not drawn out. In fact some of the endings come as a real shock.
    Having said that I also like your endings. The best advice is to leave the audience wanting more and you always do.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’ve heard the Diet of Worns is a great way to lose weight! And thanks—I was surprised when I read that someone thought the end of The Dome was “rushed”—I guess I just don’t have any interest in never ending battles like Superman vs Batman! And is there a sequel in the works? Maybe…

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I tried to post a comment earlier, but I don’t think it took. In any case, there’s a really cool lit mag called “defenestrationism,” and it’s dedicated to the “art of throwing people through the window.”https://defenestrationism.net/


  6. From Latin fenestra…

    The term was apparently coined around the time of an incident in Prague Castle in the 17 century, which became the spark that started the Thirty Years’ War, fought by various nations for various reasons. A pretty bloody one.

    Now you know we have all kinds of weird stuff in the European cinema, death by defenestration having a venerable history. Sooo I suggest checking the movie PURE, with brilliant Alicia Vikander, and that’s the only thing I’ll ever say.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Here’s another tweak: the German word for Window is Fenster, which means that if you are thrown out of a window in Germany you might be considered de-fenstered. Coincidence?🤔


  8. I watched one season of Locke & Key and then defenestrated it, Suzanne. I liked Ozark much better and if you haven’t watched the whole thing yet, you are in for a ride. And thanks for the new vocabulary word. Of course, Kate would know it. Smarty pants.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. having popped over following Ms Peach and her Necromancer, I end up being suck(er)ed into this string and wondering if the Germans have a compound word for being defenestrated while reading a blog post – throudieglasspostendumpen or some such… I need my iced beanie… thanks for the laughs.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love your writing! Also watched Locke and Key, had the same frustrations with the show. I mean I love mystery and ghosts and the works. Never heard of defenestration before. Now I’m learning something new! Thank you for the post. It’s a treat!

    Liked by 1 person

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