Z  (Excerpt), An Essay

by Tom Robbins

…It’s the most distant and elusive of our twenty-six linguistic atoms; a mysterious, dark figure in an otherwise fairly innocuous lineup, and the sleekest little swimmer ever to take laps in a bowl of alphabet soup.

 Scarcely a day of my life has gone by when I’ve not stirred the alphabetical ant nest, yet every time I type of pen the letter Z, I still feel a secret tingle, a tiny thrill. This is partially due to Z’s relative rarity: my dictionary devotes 99 pages to A words, 138 pages to P, but only 5 pages to words beginning with Z.

 Then there’s Z’s exoticness, for, though it’s a component of the English language, it gives the impression of having zipped out of Africa or the ancient Near East of Nebuchadnezzzar…Take a letter? You bet. I’ll take Z. My favorite country, at least on paper, is Zanzibar; my favorite body of water, the Zuider Zee. ZZ Top is my favorite band…Had Zsa Zsa Gabor married Frank Zappa, she would have had the coolest name in the world…

Photo: Tom Magliery, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


The above essay taken from Tom Robbins‘ essay, “Write About One of Your Favorite Things” (Esquire, 1996) and collected in Wild Ducks Flying Backward: The Short Writings of Tom Robbins (Bantam, 2005)