October 5, 2001
Words are, so to speak, my medium and stock in trade, so occasionally I stop and wonder: what is the most important word, at least in the English language? Of course the words that immediately occupy most of the top ten slots are words that generally aren’t used in polite company and that, when movies with them are shown on certain television stations are replaced by such creative alternatives as "frozen", "holy smokes", "dog", "diddley", "smithereens", "slush", "tail", my personal favorite "fruitful", or the simple bleep or the even simpler silence, which gives a really interesting effect when an individual is screaming his fruitful head off about kicking the slush out of some dog’s tail. These words are also known as "four letter words", which I don’t understand. A majority of them, certainly the most important ones, do have four letters, but some have five, one has as many as nine, and another, which is sometimes hyphenated, has twelve. (And if you know what I’m talking about, you have a dirty mind.)
Why are these words not for use in polite company? I’ve never understood that either, though it may have something to do with the situations in which you use them. Some scientists think that these four-, five-, nine-, and twelve-letter words are a sort of instinctive response to stress, and that their origins may be traced back to the earliest human speech. In other words, things a prehistoric hunter could say in the bush when his hunting partner accidentally stabbed a stone spear through his foot could not be said back in the grass hut while wearing his best loincloth and enjoying an elegant meal of roast mammoth. This was known as doing the opposite of what your instincts tell you, which we know today as "politeness".
But I digress. The most important word, though, may be one that doesn’t fall into the category of scatology; in fact, the most important word may be one of the smallest. The word I think is most important is "so". Aside from its many other uses, "so" is a word that precedes most jokes. For example: "So a priest, a minister, and a rabbi walk into a bar, and the bartender says, ‘So is this a joke?’" When said sarcastically, the word "so" conveys the complex concept "Why is this important to me?" And when used by itself, it becomes a request for silence and an announcement that one is about to begin speaking. This probably also dates back to the earliest speech. When hunters from different tribes met each other in the woods, the tension could be broken if one of them said something like, "So…" This would immediately get the other hunter’s attention, and the first one could then say, "This mammoth goes into a grass hut…" Sometimes I imagine myself being awarded a Nobel Prize (hey, a guy can dream, right?) or addressing an esteemed group such as the United Nations. In these dreams the U.N. members are all being loud and rowdy, particularly the delegation from Liechtenstein, so to quiet them down I stand at the podium and say, "So…how many of you aren’t from around here?"
Enjoy this week’s offerings.
With Happy Hour still several hours away, here are some thoughts to keep you going.
I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.
The problem with some people is that when they aren’t
drunk, they’re sober.
–William Butler Yeats
An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.
Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.
Time is never wasted when you’re wasted all the time.
Non-Drinker: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.
Reality is an illusion that occurs due to lack of alcohol.
Drinking provides a beautiful excuse to pursue the one activity that truly gives me pleasure, hooking up with fat hairy girls.
— Ross Levy
A woman drove me to drink and I didn’t even have the decency to thank her.
What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch?
When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.
Life is a waste of time, time is a waste of life, so get wasted all of the time and have the time of your life.
— Michelle Mastrolacasa
I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy.
24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence?
When we drink, we get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep. When we fall asleep, we commit no sin. When we commit no sin, we go to heaven. Sooooo, lets all get drunk, and go to heaven…
— Brian Rourke
You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline – it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.
Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.
Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
If you ever reach total enlightenment while drinking beer, I bet it makes beer shoot out your nose.
–Deep Thought, Jack Handy
Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.
The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.
Why is American beer served cold? So you can tell it from urine.
Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world.
I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer.
Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.
All right, brain, I don’t like you and you don’t like me – so lets just do this and I’ll get back to killing you with beer.
If I had a nickel for every beer I’ve bought, I’d buy more
— Priscilla Marsh