shilly-shally – to put off acting; hesitate or waver
The American Heritage Dictionary. (1983). New York, NY: Dell
“So I suppose he’ll shilly-shally till somebody else will cry snap, and take her.”
Fanny Burney, Evelina, 1778
There is this great acting exercise called lines for faces. A simple line like, “What a deal” is delivered three ways – bored, mischievous, and hurt – for example. This word makes me think of that exercise. Simple, but it swishes in the mouth like wine. I can hear it at least three ways – apologetic, innocent, and evil. Let’s see if I’m able to write this word as I hear it.
Brandon felt the tone of the voice cut through the steel divider, and his body involuntarily stopped what it was doing. Suddenly Junior Walker was singing, “Pucker up Buttercup” in his head.
Brandon sat quietly, expecting that the voice would go away soon, and he could go back to pretending he was in the privacy of his bathroom at home – the one tucked underneath the stairs by the garage door. The one nobody in the house but he bothered to use.
The voice chanted, “Shall I, shan’t I? Post and pair.”
If not for the baritonal range of the voice, Brandon would swear he was hearing a girl’s jump-roping rhyme.
The voice continued. “Will I, won’t I? Do I da . . .”
“Sir! There’s someone in here” Robert says.
– Anita, Noted in Nashville