Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why We Need LOL

I speak two languages: snob and sarcasm.

Snob is my written language; sarcasm is my colloquial language. Whenever I write anything -- fiction, prose, emails, grocery lists--I always used correct punctuation, sophisticated vocabulary, and rhetorical flourish. I use semi-colons in my text messages. Hell, I even capitalize first person "I" and spell out "you."

Sarcasm is my colloquial language. I know, I know--sarcasm is only funny to the person using it and is the sword of language. But in the home I grew up in, sarcasm was as valuable as a lifeboat on the Titanic. After years of wielding it in the name of survival, it flows naturally from my mouth, more free than air.

When I was in school to get my teaching credential, I recall a professor warning to "never use sarcasm with students" because it causes psychological damage. At the time, I wondered how I was going to teach anyone anything if I had to be mute.

Then I learned that I needed sarcasm to not only survive my childhood, but also to survive my profession. Have I scarred any teens during my teaching career? Probably. But fuck it, I've always been a bit Darwinian. And the students always know that I'm just kidding. I mean, the voice inflection that cloaks those biting words provides a cushion, right?

But, speaking sarcasm  is so much easier than writing it. And when one is texting (or IMing) it is meant to flow like conversation; it's digital dialogue. Therefore, taking the time to chose that perfect word or orchestrate language so that tone comes through is just practical or reasonable, even for masters of the written word.

Thank God for LOL and :).  Tacking one--or both if the sarcasm is really poignant-- indicates that one is j/king.

LOL is infant in the family of language, but it's precocious. It has already evolved. In the beginning, LOL was primarily used by the receiver of a message to mean that the content of what was sent made him or her to "laugh out loud."

For example, when a prospective suitor texted me, "UR cook dinner n suck cock?" I responded with "LOL" as a kind way of saying "The fuck I am, asshole." If it's a new flirtation, I might tack on a :) as well. That way, he knows that I have no intention of cooking him shit nor sucking on anything but that I am not offended by his sarcasm. If he was being serious, he'll learn right away that I may not be the girl for him. Better he learn that now than after dinner, right?

But then, LOL went from a message receiver's signal that he or she is enjoying the conversation to a message sender's tool to keep the conversation amiable.

This evolution affects both sides of the conversation. Now, the potential suitor would text, "UR cook me dinner, LOL" and I would respond with "No, you're going to buy me dinner, LOL." I don't think he's a misogynistic dick and he doesn't think I am a gold-digging bitch. Instead, we learn that we are both witty and playful.

If potential suitor texts, "UR cook dinner?" without the LOL :), I know that his question is serious and I can whip out my snobbery and respond with, "Sure, after you take me out to dinner, buy me a dozen roses, and then send me a thank you card the following day."

As long as the communication is clear, it's all good. If the potential suitor was joking and the lack of LOL was an oversight, well then, I've learned that he's careless. No thank-you. Still a win-win for me.

Monday, July 2, 2012

What's for Sale?

Because every truck driver, student driver, and elderly driver decided to be on the 605 North today, I found myself cruising behind a freight truck with an ad for Bro Pack Beef.

To most of us of average intelligence, clearly Bro Pack Beef is meat. To those who may not be of average intelligence, this ad could be quite confusing.

"Bro" has several definitions. The OED defines "Bro" as the colloquial for "brother." That positive connotation does transfer to the slang term "bro" when one is referring to a close, male friend. In addition, Urban dictionary has a string of definitions mostly focusing on the derogatory: "An alpha male idiot, usually white young male, found commonly in places like san bernardino county in california, as well as orange county. always, without exception, drive big lifted trucks." Their style consists of "trucker hats off center, plug earrings, sunglasses, wife beater shirt or no shirt, sagging dickies shorts, high black socks, skater shoes or those black corduroy slipper things, have a lot of tatoos of things like stars" (Urban Dictionary).

Those who have always wanted an older brother, would be drawn to the Bro Pack Beef ad thinking he/she could finally have that protective older sibling he/she always wanted. But, isn't buying people a felony?

As for the label "Bro," derogatory or not, this will isolate the market. My sister dated a full-fledge Bro and if she had seen that ad, she  might have caused a pile-up on the 605 just trying to get away from it.  I, on the other hand, have never dated a Bro, so it might inspire me to buy . . . I mean try it.

Then the "pack" issue comes into play. Even if Bro Pack Beef found a way to sell older siblings without getting arrested, do I really want a pack of them? A pack may be innocuously defined by the OED as "a bundle of things wrapped or tied together," but I can't help but associate packs with wolves, hyenas and other carnivorous animals. Do I want a bunch of carnivorous animals taking on the role of my protector?


But then in true brother/sister form, being the object of much teasing from a bunch of carnivorious animals is not what I want to invest in.

If I am willing to invest in dating a tatted-out, white young man, do I really want a pack? Do bros have an expiration date? If they do, and I can't finish the pack, will my badass reputation be put at risk? And how many are in the pack? Is it like a pack of beer?

I am already riddled with confusion and I haven't even addressed the "beef" aspect yet. On the surface, beef is simply meat from a cow, but since the company is using the term "bro," "beef" might also have a colloquial or slang definition. Commonly, "beef" is also defined as a grudge or a fight. Therefore, do I really want a pack of bros that are ready to brawl?

Bro Pack Beef has really narrowed their market to men and women who have no self-esteem and who need a pack of brothers to not only protect them but also abuse them, men who have anger issues and who feel a few good brawls will make them feel better, and women who are feeling rebellious and have a lot of stamina.

Well, at least the company didn't call themselves Bro Pack Sausage. Talk about a narrow market.