Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We Can Hear What You Mean

In a heavy southern accent, the DMV examiner asked our seventeen-year old son, Adam, if he had ever been convicted of a DUI?

He said, “Yes.”

Adam didn’t drink. Or drive. Or have a license. What he really meant was I’m a little nervous.

Even so, communication is a tricky, tricky business these days. Political correctness, rampant hypocrisy, personal agendas, and the fact that everyone with fingers has a website and is selling something has put a crimp in being able to communicate with any kind of veracity.

Veracity. Crap. What does that mean? Technically, it means “habitual truthfulness.”

Truth? Oh boy, but I’ve heard that truth is a relative term, because I go to college where simple things become nasty and complicated like a knot in the shoelace of a kid’s tennis shoe that has been peed on all day. How is this going to work if we can’t agree on whether or not there is a knot in the shoelace? Or whether or not the smell wafting up from the shoelace is urine when we try to untie the knot with our teeth.

For example: 

A voter may say, “Boy, a fifteen trillion dollar national debt is a lot and feels like a black hole sucking my lungs out through my ears.”

Compared to the administration saying, “What fifteen trillion dollar national debt?” Which means, “Holy snake spit, now what?

How about the concept of civility? Everyone seems to be for it, sort of.

“It’s so important to be civil to and respectful of the **brave funny man on the comedy show when he or his minions have shoved a ***beloved religious icon between the legs of a chubby naked chick and made sport of it. I sure wish those idiot, moron, knuckle-dragging Catholics understood civility.”

In this case the word “civil” or “civility” means agree with me, or I will call you nasty knuckle-dragging names.

Brave and funny are two words whose meaning have become both loosey and goosey. The word brave now means, “taking cheap shots.” For example Jon Stewart is considered “brave” for his inventive placement of a crèche scene, giving it the snappy name of Vagina Manger.  Really?

I think brave would have been taking a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed and propping it between the legs of a chubby naked chick. Of course, New York would burn down and that would be considered “bold.”

Don’t even get me started on the phrases “cutting edge,” “mean-spirited,” or “stupid do-do head.”

When I refuse to let the grandchildren overdose on Otter Pops, I am often called “mean,” as in “you are a mean old YaYa” for not letting us eat enough frozen sugar water to give a whale diabetes.

But I know that what the children are really saying, “It’s so hard learning to be self-disciplined and in--control grownups who can be the boss of ourselves that we could cry and kick and blame the YaYa.”

Truth. Civility. Semantics. It’s a minefield out there.

Linda (Do-Do Head) Zern

**Jon Stewart
***A Christmas nativity scene of the baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph


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