Wednesday, November 09, 2005

This one's for posterity

There’s a particular word that always gives me pause when I hear it; see if you can guess what it is.

It’s used to lovingly describe our toddlers when at their most precocious. We use it to jokingly describe our adolescents when at their most Eddie Haskell-esque. And it’s often used, sometimes in derision but usually good naturedly, to describe co-workers caught in the act of kowtowing. It’s spoken in “polite” company, by “nice” people and seldom is its utterance met with disapproval or a turned-up “nose.” All with no regard to the word’s scatological origins.

Can you guess what it is? If you didn’t catch the hint in the previous paragraph, the word I speak of is “brownnose (er) (ing) (ist) (phile) (oholic).” I described the contextual definition of the word in the previous paragraph. Decorum, however, prevents me from delving too literally into its etymology. Besides, most everyone knows, if they give it a second thought, that it is derived from the phrase and is the result of engaging in: “the kissing of the posterior.”

It’s quite a cringe-worthy word when you think about it, which is why it is probably best not to think about it. You could seek out a synonym, although the choices are disappointing. “Ingratiator” is too formal, lacks punch, and really isn't a word. “Bootlicker” is perhaps too descriptive, along with being idiomatic to a certain leather- and chain-bound segment of society that many find unsavory. And “apple polisher” is too cumbersome and could be perplexing to younger generations for whom the act of giving an apple is not readily interpreted as a symbol of toadyism. So we are left with “brownnoser” and must resign ourselves to its rather gross derivation.

You may have noticed that I’ve been spelling “brownnose” as one word. It usage has become so common in our lexicon that it is no longer considered a two-word phrase and, at least in Webster’s view, it has evolved beyond a compound word and as such we are allowed to ditch the hyphen. Contrary to popular opinion, the phrase “brownie points” derives from the merit system of the respected pre-Girl Scout organization and does not, thankfully, refer to the accumulation of . . . well, you know.

The word’s origins date back to the 1930s and is largely credited to our boys in the military who have been known to coin some vivid expressions. Had I been in a foxhole and overheard it being uttered for the very first time, I would have never imagined that someday its use would become ubiquitous in all walks of life.

As someone who enjoys words, I aspire to coining a word or phrase that will someday be judged worthy by those prescriptionists over at the OED. And I think that I’ve discovered it: crap tablet.

“Crap tablet” is a mild to middling expletive that is intended to fall between “shoot” and “sh**. It’s easy to say, fun even. The “AP” “AB” sounds produce a rhyme to give the phrase a lyrical flow that most people will find appealing.

As for its meaning, let’s break the phrase down to get a better understanding. The scatological definition of “crap” is now secondary in usage, the word is more commonly used to describe something of inferior quality, or as an expression of frustration or disgust, as it is intended here. “Tablet” connotes medicine, something that you are reluctant to ingest because it tastes bad, but you are forced to anyway (the part about medicine being ultimately good for you does not apply.) Basically, “crap tablet” means “I am miffed, but not to the point where I need to cuss.” Or more succinctly, "D'Oh!"

Perhaps its use will be clearer if explained in context. If you were playing poker and lost a small pot when your two Jacks were bested by two Ladies, you might say “crap tablet.” If you went all-in on a full house only to fall short to a flush, you’d probably prefer something a little stronger.

Another scenario where it would be appropriate is if you spill a small amount of coffee on your blouse - provided that the coffee isn’t scalding, in which case you would again look to something more robust to convey what you are feeling.

The phrase can be made more potent by growling the initial letter blend “crrrrrrrr” for a few extended counts before barking out the final “ap tablet!!!” This would be useful to your more crotchety types, but all things being equal, I prefer a more benign interpretation.

The only variation on the phrase that I’m currently advocating is “Gigantic Crap Tablet”, largely on the basis that it can then be sung to the tune of "Hakuna Matata", leaving the door open to go completely Weird Al on the rest of the lyrics, if that is your want.

Before going public with my creation, I did my due diligence by spending about 10 minutes researching Google to see if anyone else is laying claim to the phrase. It is in usage, but not in the context which I am suggesting. In most cases I found, the word “crap” is being used as an adjective to describe a dysfunctional tablet PC. So I feel safe in proclaiming myself its originator.

The adoption of “crap tablet” into the patois of Western society is my one shot at immortality, so I am asking you, dear reader, to help me by introducing it into your vocabulary. Give it a try, it’s fun. You don’t have to be obvious about it – say it as if it is the most natural thing in the world to say. At the office, in the grocery store, on air, even if you’re all alone stuck in traffic, let the “crap tablets” fly and know that you are on the cutting edge of an etymological phenomena that will soon be sweeping the land.

You don’t have to credit me if you use it in a published work. If you are asked where you picked up such a colorful and expressive phrase, you might mention my work here at BlogFreeSpringfield.

Crap tablet – God willing, it will be my epitaph.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You, sir, are a craptacular apple-polisher.

Not that there's anything wrong wiht that!

camelot uk lottery results said...

Hello Dan, 'This one's for posterity' caught my eye when I was searching through Google's new blog search thingy, I was actually looking for more info on national lottery syndicate agreement but thought I'd come and have a read anyway. Glad I took the time, I'm sure to pop back if there are any new posts. C'ya.