I recently described to a friend in a text message that my most recent battle with my kidney stones was something akin to the German army marching on Poland, except in this case, the march of destruction trampled barely impeded though Gonad City, followed by the laying waste of Urethraville. Safe to say there was much teeth gnashing and tear shedding, but the survivors are all that much stronger for it. Or mildly addicted to Dilaudid. The jury is still out on that one.
After suffering through what I could only describe as an extended period of painful living punctuated by involuntary spasms when a blade-like stone decided to slash its way a millimeter or so down the canal, it dawned on me that comparing the passage of my kidney stones to a WWII nightmare was a bit callous. Then again, I am one of – if not two of – the worst people I know. Such a reckless use of language is certainly a sign of splintered chromosomes and missing moral centrality. Or, again, the aforementioned mild addiction to Dilaudid.
So to survive the battle of Kidney Stone Ridge, I was forced to consume vats of water, juice, coffee and soup. This gave me time to stop and think, due to peeing frequently, which led to some reading of car magazines while dashing to or hanging around the commode.
One particular passing was rather eventful as the pain killers hadn’t kicked in yet. After clenching the door frame in the bathroom as a method of pain transference, I came to realize that there may well be sufficient words in the English vocabulary to describe my levels of pain and discomfort, not to mention the frequent body twitching these stones cause, but I don’t possess them. I do possess Ninja-like skills in the application of the F-word since this whole episode started.
Since expressing myself would bore the crap out of all of you, I’ll just tell you what other realizations I came to while doing some bathroom reading and peeing.
First of all, the history of automobile marketing says a lot about what an impatient society we have become. Back in the 1920’s and 30’s cars had really long names, like the Bugatti Type 57 S Atlantique, or the Talbot-Lago Drophead Coupe Elegance, or the Alfa Romeo Stradale Tipo 33. They were full, long, elegant names that required a degree to read. Or glasses. They sounded like expensive meals with appetizers. Either way, it’s clear a long name meant prestige. However, along the way, car model names began to shorten. The Cadillac Eldorado, the Ford Granada, the Honda Civic, the VW Golf. It seems shorter was better for marketing, I’m guessing because we had become too impatient to read.
After that, some genius, a German I think, decided it was way easier for the rich and powerful to just use alpha-numeric names. A6, G35, F12 and so on. Or the 3-letter acronyms are popular, like TSX, GTI and GLK. It seems we have so little attention span and such an inability to express ourselves with actual words, we have resorted to calling our creations by the shortest names possible. Does this connote prestige and mystery? Or is it way cheaper because you use less ink on the expensive glossy brochures?
I wonder if we’ll start naming things based on the fewest number of syllables, like laundry detergent. You know, Tide, Gain, Cheer, etc. Or will it just be reduced to naming products with grunts. Maybe the GMC Grunt. The Cadillac Oy. The BMW Nein. The Ford Qué? The Nissan D’oh. The Dodge Feh. The Volvo Snø. The single syllable possibilities are virtually endless. Any idiot could market a car. Like me.
The Mangling Continues
However, this wave of abbreviations is nothing like the language mangling I hear at work every day. How many times have I heard about being “on the bleeding edge” of technology. Sure, the aeronautically derived “being on the leading edge” wasn’t good enough. No, we had to be on the bleeding edge to show just how far we are at the forefront of whatever. Blood loss and leakage means progress, it seems.
Topping the bleeding is the other linguistic train wreck that I hear daily. Describing a concept that is not completely worked out in detail, the resulting action is to “flush things out.” No, not “flesh out” but flush out. I could recommend a session at the proctologist office to complete this flushing, but I can’t see how that would really make a person work out the details of a concept. It would make you all weak and dizzy I think. And why are we flushing things out anyway? Aren’t the literal and metaphorical toilets of our lives already clogged with enough refuse and excretions that we now have to add this? I think we should do less flushing and more fleshing. Or eating flesh.
Which is nothing compared to the wonderfully mangled “see what’s coming down the pipe”, to refer to future occurrences. The proper expression is “coming down the pike” (short for “trunpike, a highway of sorts). When I hear people say that — educated people, no less — all I can do is think to myself “You know what comes down my pipe? Well it ain’t those damn kidney stones, I’ll tell ya!”
I’m not here to list the millions of malapropisms people say. That will be a different episode and my uncle has a list longer than his hairy arm. It’s really all about a cheap idea to steal from someone way more literate than I could ever be, apply a dash of twisted humor, and then beg you readers to not report me to the authorities.
What does this pain-racked rant have to do with this installment of Stanko & Tibor, once described by Aung San Suu Kyi as “a reason to abandon pacifism in favor of taking up arms with a fully loaded Uzi” and by the Pope as “indisputable proof the Devil exists”? Well, if you are too thick to get the blatant Shakespeare rip-off in the comic, then maybe you should do us all a favor and “shuffle off your mortal coil” — or is that “shuttle off your mortal boil?”
I can never get that right.
Achingly handsome in very poorly lit rooms,
Jon von Jon