A Different Dictionary

English is a wonderful language.  It works like a river, flowing along, constantly changing and always finding its own level.  Words appear and disappear.  Definitions change.  Meanings mutate.  And, yet, we all kinda understand each other.  To that end, here are a few definitions that might not appear in any dictionary, but I’m sure you’ll recognize them, all the same.

Tomorrow – A place where all human activity and productivity is stored.

Calories – Nasty little creatures who live in your closet and eat the sizes off your clothes.

Avoidance Behaviour – The somewhat boring stuff we do when we have more important boring stuff to do.

Internet – An essential tool of avoidance behaviour.

Pockets – Those things that fashion designers have been denying women for centuries.

Leftovers – Food that lives in the refrigerator for a while – before you throw it out.

Selfies – Photographs of people who have no friends.

Full-length Mirror – A rather useful item when you have clothes on that turns remarkably evil when you’re naked.

Shower – A place to hold imaginary arguments and sing songs that were popular when you were a teenager.

Bae – A stupid, made-up, millennial word that doesn’t mean anything.

Wikipedia – The arbitrator of all arguments.

Exercise – Sometimes pronounced “extra fries,” depending on your self-esteem that day.

Man Bun – A one-size-fits-all way to look ridiculous.

Junk Food – Stuff that everybody eats but nobody admits it.

4 In The Morning – An elusive place where the truth lives.

Twitter – An alternative reality where miserable people go to be angry.

Family – People who know too much about you to be your friends.

Lottery Tickets – A tax on people who can’t do math.

YouTube – Moving pictures that eat time.

And my favourite:

Vegans – People who announce the menu when nobody’s even thinking about food.

OBIT: Common Sense

It is with great sadness that I must announce the death of Common Sense.  Even though Common Sense had suffered from a debilitating illness for many years, few, if any of us, realized it was terminal — until it was too late.  Early reports say that it was not one massive act of utter Stupidity that killed Common Sense but years of petty Ignorance that simply destroyed Common Sense’s will to live.  Common Sense was predeceased by its lifelong partner, Pragmatism, and is survived by its children, Reason and Logic, who have vowed to continue their parents’ work.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time.

There is no clear record of the birth of Common Sense, but there are numerous documented examples of its accomplishments throughout human history.  Unfortunately, despite these many accolades, these days, Common Sense’s abilities and achievements are largely ignored.  And while it’s true some older people still remember Common Sense, it’s difficult for most people to imagine that Common Sense once practically ruled the world and had many devoted followers.  Sadly, those days are gone — perhaps forever.

Clearly, however, not everyone is saddened by this tragedy.  Politically Correct immediately took to Social Media to celebrate the demise of their greatest foe.

“Fry in Hell, Common Sense!”

“We totally reject the so-called ‘Common Sense Approach’ to problem solving.  Solutions do nothing to promote awareness of the issues.”

“Ding Dong! Descartes is Dead.
Ideology cut off his head.
Ding Dong! Rene Descartes is dead.”

Very uncool to use the ‘D’ word — and completely insensitive to people who have experienced (or will eventually experience) loss when friends or family pass.”

“Common Sense was an antiquated relic of the Eurocentric Enlightenment that has no place in our contemporary, ideologically diverse world.”

“Although we do not support Stupidity and Ignorance, we do recognize their legitimate struggle to reshape the narrative away from Common Sense’s solution-based agenda.”

“Aristotle was a misogynist, a xenophobic racist and probably a slave owner, and we call on all educators and pedagogues to stand together and erase his name from the curriculum.  We also call on all institutions of higher learning to remove his likeness or graven image from their physical environment.

“Reason & Logic — u r next!”

As yet, no funeral arrangements have been made, but it was Common Sense’s dying wish to be buried alongside Humour, Satire and Irony, childhood friends who were brutally murdered during the Culture Wars of the 1990s.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that mourners turn off Twitter and Facebook for A Moment of Cyber-Silence in memory of Common Sense’s ability to elevate the conversation beyond Internet trolling.

Rest In Peace, Common Sense.  You will be missed.

BUT . . .

The most powerful word in the English language is “but.”  It’s a grammatical Liam Neeson with a very particular set of skills that kicks ass.  It’s way better than that greedy little “and” who’s always looking for something extra the minute he shows up.  And, don’t get me started on “or:” grammar’s Hamlet, who couldn’t make a decision if his life depended on it.  No, for sheer conjunctional word power, go with “but” every time.  Here’s why:

1 – “but” sugarcoats the punch in the face — When you want to rip somebody a new one but you don’t want them to get so angry they go home and get a shotgun, throw in a “but.”  For example: “Jennifer, you are one of our most valued employees, conscientious and hard-working, BUT you have the math skills of a goat, and if you don’t get with it, I’m going to fire you so hard your grandchildren will be unemployed.”

2 – “but” pleads your case — When you know you screwed up and you’re looking around for something else to blame, use “but.”  Once again: “I know I drove your car into the side of that guy’s house, BUT you didn’t tell me it had sticky brakes when I borrowed it.”

And if you play #2 correctly…

3 – “but” can even get you off the hook — “Normally, I’d pay for the repairs to your car, BUT if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have ever known about those bad brakes.  Actually, I did you a big favour.”

Also

4 – “but” lets us look on the bright side — When your situation seems about as bleak as the slums of Mordor, try “but” to turn the lemon into lemonade.  “Hey, bro!  Sorry I had sex with your wife and your little sister last month after your birthday party, BUT they both phoned today, and guess what?  They’re not pregnant.  Cool, huh?”

And finally the most badass tool of all:

5 – nothing important ever gets said until someone says “but.” — In any conversation, discussion or argument, you can discount everything that’s said before “but.”  In fact, you don’t even have to listen.  Check it out:

“I understand your point of view, but only the part that happened before you opened your mouth.”
“Of course I agree, but not enough to quit arguing with you.”
“That’s an interesting opinion, but I’m not all that familiar with LooneyTunes cartoons.”
“Certainly, this current refugee problem is a crisis of biblical proportion and Western governments have a moral obligation to offer as much assistance as possible but what are all these gypsies, tramps and thieves doing in my country?”
“I like pasta, too, but there’s no way I’m eating that Italian glue tonight.”
“I’m not a racist but, man, those people are weird.”
“I love you dearly, but if you leave the toilet seat up one more time, I’m going to shoot you in the head.”
Etc. etc. etc.

So here’s to you, “but,” you sassy little conjunction!  Thanks for always being there for us.

Originally written November, 2015