Can’t find the right word? Stifled when the cretin ahead of you in the “Express Lane” is paying for a full shopping cart with a Ziploc of Canadian coins? You’re not alone. There’s a shortage shredding the very polyester fiber of this great land. We’ve run out of modifiers – you know – adjectives, adverbs, admonishers and condiments.
The shortage was recently apparent when Neil Diamond, a crotchety rock star whose “Cherry, Cherry” is now wildly popular in geriatrics wards and elevators alike, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Old Neil’s acceptance speech was slogging along when he ranted, “I’m flying back tomorrow to Sydney f***ing Australia because they love me there!” Australia gets that all the time – probably because of the water. But long before Crocodile Dundee, British convicts sent “down under” were less crude:
1st criminal: Bloody rotten luck. Eh, captain?
2nd criminal: The blimey Bobbies lost our bloomin’ luggage!
1st criminal: Sod orf, mate! Any loos about?
Even this year’s Academy Award’s Best Supporting Actress, Melissa Leo shocked those still awake with her acceptance faux pas, “When I watched Kate two years ago, it looked so f***ing easy.” She was referring to Oscar winner Kate Winslet who, well, makes interstellar travel on a drunken yak look frolicking easy.
The words have vanished! Clearly evident by the goof who, using the Chrysler account twirpted, “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #1 motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f***ing drive.” Then he gets fired for using an expression modeled by Drivers Ed teachers across the nation. There is no justice.
Students confide in me that college professors drop the f-bomb like it was cherry-flavored Tums. One English professor, who spent years pursuing linguistic pleasures, now stammers in front of a class, mind racing for picturesque adjectives which were once so abundant, only to frustratingly spew, “f***ing sunset.” Or the Education professor who helplessly repeats the f-word because it’s all that’s left for crossing cultural boundaries; equally as effective diagramming a sentence, a quadratic equation, or the Louisiana Purchase. Sends chills up your spine, doesn’t it?
These days, descriptive communication is the pits. People are lost! They long to create expressive phrases like, “The overtly juicy-sweet bowl of bloating succulent squid radiated with the wafting aroma of strong, putridly-scented sewage.” but are relegated to using, “Man, that f***ing squid stunk.”
It’s safe to say; historically, we’ve been wasteful. Guys like Shakespeare were constantly coining thriftless prose such as: “A kneaded clod, and the delighted spirit to bathe in fiery floods, or to reside in thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice, for sooth Romeo, have thou no soap?” He obviously was stoned out of his head.
Like you, when caught in the right situation, I’m also without those scarce modifiers. For example, I’ll be lying face up under the bathroom sink, fumbling with a constipated p-trap, when the flushing thing will break loose, dousing my face with a hamster-sized hair ball. What would you say? I thought so.
We need a summer reading program to boost the supply of modifiers – cool words like voluptuous, convivial, and fork. Otherwise, one day, the f-word will replace most of the English language and … What the heck! My neighbor’s … uh … um … forking miniature poodle is in my front yard again!