As faithful readers of this column will come to learn, I will periodically indulge in public service announcements intended for the betterment of my fellow man. I am sharing these trenchant insights not merely to dispel the notion that this space is devoted solely to unsubstantiated anecdotes and frippery, but also to appeal to the angel in us all to help support one another through these difficult times. What I propose herein will not cost the taxpayer a single penny, yet if universally adopted would raise the quality of life for all Americans.
The world lost a great comedian last year with the unexpected passing of George Carlin. Blessed with a supple mind and a love of language, Carlin, more than any other artist of his age, forged comedy from wordplay. Rather than describe wacky situations or zany personalities, Carlin explored the meaning that lay hidden in our everyday language. Carlin found wonder, humor and social commentary all bundled in the way we use words.
Carlin’s most famous shtick involved the seven dirty words that were unutterable in national media at the time. (Standards have evolved since Carlin first did this bit.) Carlin dragged each vulgarity out into the light, slapped it around and generally sought to demonstrate that if we only stopped treating these words with a sort of inverse reverence and inserted them into our daily discourse, they would soon be banal and lose their power to shock and appall.
He was wrong. (Or I could be wrong and that wasn’t Carlin’s point at all, so I’m invoking infallibility.) I love George Carlin and hope some day I can play cribbage with him, but he was wrong about naughty words being rendered impotent by regular use. They still strike a discordant note, or else we wouldn’t continue to use them for emphasis when we feel the situation demands it. They seem particularly out of place at an alpine resort, by definition a sort of refuge, where the sounds of expletives on the air suck the charm out of the experience. It is a form of air pollution that society can pretty much do without.
Yet exuberance and exasperation alike must find a voice, and the days when “fiddlesticks” and “phooey” would purge the soul of spleen are over. So I humbly suggest a new language of obscenity, not a mere 7 words but a whole lexicon of libidinous release, that when spoken with fury, pain or pride delivers satisfaction to the speaker without disturbing the tranquility of others present. I call this language, “Fauxwegian.” Anyone can speak it and perhaps already does. While it has some sonic similarities with Norwegian, not only is it not Norwegian but a knowledge of actual Norwegian is probably a liability.
Let’s take an everyday situation. A citizen struggles to remove his nearly-frozen Lange race boot. When his foot is almost half-way out, the shell suddenly snaps shut with the ferocity of the unfed, nearly severing the forefoot. He cries out, “Fling furgording oone ding florggin indee fjord!” Why, it could be a snippet of opera from Edvard Hagerup (1843 – 1907) Grieg! If it doesn’t come off exactly as opera, it certainly doesn’t sound like profanity, either. Could be just another dyslexic Norwegian giving voice to his muse.
Lest one imagine this solution the exclusive domain of skiers, envision, if you will, a clot of snowboarders infiltrating the lift line, fresh from feats of derring-do. Instead of expressing their joy in an unbroken blue streak, they bark back and forth in Fauxwegian: “Vinkking ack vo totally stoopen!” (One of Fauxwegian’s many advantages is its mutability, how it seamlessly adopts words from other tongues and integrates them into its rhythmic flow.)
Before some descendant of the Vikings lunges at the keyboard to defend Mother Norway, please understand that Fauxwegian is not meant to mock the linguistic heritage of this great land. To be successful, Fauxwegian has to be grounded in a singsong language the rest of us find basically incomprehensible, preferably coming from a country with a small population, a terrific sense of humor, no standing army and weak libel laws.
Should Malcolm Gladwell be reading this, and I’m not suggesting that he is but I’m not saying he isn’t, and he wishes to deconstruct the etymology of Fauxwegian, I confess to having “discovered” the language while researching a suite of folk songs I planned to compose in a dead language, or failing that, a language that had never lived. Fauxwegian came to me in a vision, in much the same way Joseph Smith received the golden tablets, granting me instant fluency in a tongue unspoken since the dawn of time. There was no toad licking involved, despite what you may have read on Facebook.
The Pontiff has a very limited marketing budget devoted to getting the word out about speaking Fauxwegian in lieu of profanity. Buying the Ring Dings and Spanish champagne I consumed while writing this call to arms has pretty well exhausted it. This puts the burden squarely on you, dear reader, to establish the new rule of Fauxwegian by example. Practice is always helpful. Gently close the door to your SUV or pick-up on your finger and see what colorful expressions in Fauxwegian come to mind. This way, the next time you catch a body part in the zipper of your one-piece, you will already be proficient in a few key expressions that will allow you to sail through the experience without screaming anything unattractive.
To those of you willing to be evangels of Fauxwegian, I remind you of the many marketing advantages you will enjoy. For example, Fauxwegian is a green movement, leaving behind a carbon footprint of zero, so you might be able to trade the use of it for energy credits. More than merely non-polluting, Fauxwegian is a cleansing agent as it removes a toxic substance and replaces it with sweet gibberish.
Like many of my previous inventions such as Relaxing Glue, the Single-Tree Hammock and the Flaccid Condom, my discovery of Fauxwegian will likely prove difficult to monetize. A brief suggestion to Rosetta Stone was gruffly rebuffed in several languages, none of them Fauxwegian, but I still got their drift. Undeterred, I am heading to the garage to do some research involving the sliding door on a ’93 Dodge Caravan. I’m hoping to come up with a few choice adjectives.
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