We’ve begun 2016, and that can only mean three things. First, if Daphne Zuniga is the B and Ione Skye is the C, who is the A? Still no good answer. (What’s that you say, Liv Tyler? A tad out of sync, but otherwise not bad.) Second, I hate to admit it, but it might be time for me to lawyer up. I don’t throw the word “conspiracy” around loosely, but at each of the last three NBA games I have attended my inguinal region has been targeted at close range by the T-shirt cannon blaster. As far as I’m concerned their slogan should be I Love This Game…If I’m Wearing a Cup! And third, it’s officially time to retire certain words, and one intra-office activity, that either have overstayed their welcome or are simply too dangerous for continued use.
Journey tops the list in the “overstayed their welcome” category. Why is everybody on a journey these days? Journeys are epic, phantasmagorical: most of the time I’m pretty much just getting milk at the grocery, listening to Marshall Tucker or flossing. And if cosmic forces ever truly conspired – say through a pre-dawn visit from a magical teddy bear — and I got the chance to go on a journey, I’m sure it would be anticlimactic:
Buttons the Bear (appearing at my breakfast table): I am giving you a great gift. A chance to slide down the rainbows of time, and see how the world might have been if just a few more people used their imagination. [Lets out a friendly teddy bear chuckle] Why, you might even learn a thing or two about the magic that’s all around you. So, shall we take that journey together?
Buttons the Bear: Wow, I really didn’t see this coming. Nobody’s ever said no. (Awkward silence). Can I, uh, have some Golden Grahams?
Me: Help yourself.
You know whose life has been a journey? The band Journey. The rest of us would do well to turn off “Don’t Stop Believin’” and just retire the word once and for all. I’m also calling out misuse of narrative, overuse of the new normal and any use whatsoever of your/my truth. And then there’s ring-fence. Why do white-collar types always end up talking like cowboys, with calls to corral this issue and ring-fence that risk? (I won’t even get into the latent cattleman-envy embedded in Jeans Day.) Can you imagine two cowboys laying down fence to protect livestock and calling it hedging commodity risk? Or this:
Cowboy #1: That storm sure kicked up fast. Glad we found shelter.
Cowboy #2: You got that right. Talk about a material adverse change!
While we’re at it, we should take this opportunity to put out to pasture (more cowboy-envy, my bad) one truly misguided office perk: intra-office massage, I’m talking about you. I loathe everything about this workplace abomination for a number of reasons. First, let’s keep in mind the big picture. The Greatest Generation didn’t take the beach at Normandy just so I could enjoy a three o’clock shirtless shiatsu in the office servery. Second, of all the ways to hurt your back, slipping on excess eucalyptus oil that has gathered by the printer shouldn’t be one. And third, it’s terrible for business, whatever business you’re in. Can we agree that nothing sows distrust like a blast from a conch shell picked up on your speakerphone?
Me: These numbers look good, I think we’re ready to close … [interrupting conch blast] … Under the sea, under the sea, darlin’ it’s better, down where it’s wetter, take it from me …
Counterparty: What was that?
Me: My apologies. Apparently Fordyce from Supply Chain Management is getting the Calypso Rubdown next door.
Where does this end? How am I supposed to concentrate knowing at any moment I might pass Kingsley in the hallway, naked as a jaybird, on the way to his full-body exfoliation? What if the receptionist double-books the Adger-Smythe conference room and, instead of facing a deposition witness, I see old man Capshaw splayed out as he waits for No Stone Unturned?
I realize that I have left little time for the hazardous words we must abandon in 2016. Brasserie is one. Way too close to brassiere, and a Freudian slip in a lunch invite to a curvy colleague can complicate your career. Same goes for esoterica – fine word, but no recovering if it comes out as erotica. You might not even realize you misspoke, leaving your listener ever after to think it’s always the guys who look so normal. Angina? Tread lightly, Dr. Well-Intending. And if you think the wedding toast just can’t be given without using clatterfart or knobstick, all I can say brother is get your hands on a thesaurus.