Things are looking up with Durango Dictionary

In a recent column, you outlined aspects of “the Durango Lifestyle,” such as waving at every train. Just thought I’d suggest another local phrase: “clusterfrump,” which is when a group of locals wearing really unfashionable clothes stand in the middle of the sidewalk gabbing and forcing other pedestrians to detour around them. Can you provide some other terms further defining the Durango lifestyle? – Linda Conner, Hesperus

Outsiders say this town is difficult to classify. Yet everyone who lives here can pinpoint the local lifestyle to a “T.”

That means it’s perfectly normal to wear a T-shirt to work, dinner parties and weddings.

Some folks think this is a charming local custom. Others, however, see “the Durango Lifestyle” as oxymoronic – with the prefix “oxy” not particularly necessary.

So to avoid further confusion, let’s start a Durango Dictionary – terms we can universally agree upon but that apply only locally.

Take the word “dogmatic.” It’s the assumption that your dogs are automatically welcome everywhere you go, including classy restaurants, Home Depot or the Farmers Market.

Then, there’s “disenfranchised.” That’s the feeling you get when voters reject a dubious fee agreement and you have to cut your budget by $900,000.

In Durango, “animosity” describes the feeling people along the Animas River corridor have toward the summer-long parade of obnoxious drunkards floating by on inner tubes.

What about “raconteur?” The Durango Dictionary reads thusly:

Racźonźteur (rak’än tur’) noun – A person skilled at telling stories about epic adventures using all the sports equipment carried around on the roof rack of a Subaru.

We all have friends who are “Wal-flowers.”

These are people who smugly profess they don’t shop at Walmart but slink into the store during off-hours and pretend not to see you if your paths cross in the toothpaste and cheap mouthwash aisle.

“Howdy Duty” isn’t a red-haired wooden puppet on a kids’ TV show. It’s a job description requiring workers to greet customers warmly as they come in the door.

Sadly, more than a few local clerks are too busy texting or talking with co-workers to perform their howdy duty.

What’s up with “wacky tobacky?” This is the common practice of pickup drivers backing into parking spaces. Can anyone explain how this saves time or effort?

“Relocation” is when things sour between a Realtor and his or her brokerage, and the agent immediately joins a competing firm.

“Boulevard” has a specific meaning in Durango.

Pronounced “bully-vard,” this word describes when residents of a tree-line street go to extreme lengths to preserve its “historic character” by vehement protesting tasteful commercial use of properties but allowing a host of rundown, dilapidated rental homes to sully the neighborhood.

“Resign” doesn’t mean quitting one’s job. It’s when the Colorado Department of Transportation puts up a bunch of new signs to explain the signs they just put up.

Think of the expensive flashing yellow arrows that suddenly appeared. They’re everywhere, but local drivers couldn’t figure out what to do.

So even more money was spent on putting up additional signage saying what flashing yellow arrows mean.

And finally, we have “disenchantment.”

Disenchantment is the sinking feeling you get while driving to Farmington on the single-lane section of U.S. Highway 550 and you get stuck behind a car with New Mexico plates going 42 miles an hour with no opportunity to pass.

At this point, you accept the fact that your trip to the Land of Enchantment will take much longer than anticipated.

Email questions or your daffy-nitions to or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if can remember the last time you looked up a word in a printed version of a dictionary.

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