Writing Switch: Locked-up linguistics | AspenTimes.com

Writing Switch: Locked-up linguistics

New phrases become annoying as soon as they start appearing in TV commercials. The proverbial Hot Topic of modern lexicon is when Flo the Progressive girl or Jake from State Farm start lecturing us on “contactless delivery.” It’s like, yo, The Lonely Island’s “Like a Boss” skit is 10 years old, nobody is going to buy that shirt because it’s not funny anymore, and only Zak Bagans still wears fingerless gloves. This week, we break down obnoxious new coronavirus-inspired additions to vernacular, and also just break down in general.

New normal

SB: The most exhausting phrase to come out of this pandemic is “new normal.” It’s not a new normal; it’s a temporary normal. In a year and a half when you’re shaking hands at a business meeting or job interview, you’re not going to think twice because there will be a vaccine.

We’re not going to be elbow bumping or wearing a buff around the grocery store. You think people like Zoom? The novelty has worn off, and so has any kind of turn of phrase like “New Abnormal” or “Brave New Normal.”

Shut up and practice protocol, jackass, so we can get back to throwing peanut shells on the ground at baseball stadiums and washing our hands only when we get piss on them.

We’re all in this together

BW: I don’t need your help. Who was there to wipe my tears away when Kobe died? I was by myself then and I’m by myself now, and I will be by myself for the next year and probably forever as Bumble has been rendered completely worthless. You think I’m going to meet a chick by screaming at her through a Michael Meyers mask and across the bar when I couldn’t even muster a connection back when you could walk right up behind them and sniff their hair? Hell no. The only human contact I’ve had in the past 45 days was when I accidentally bumped hands with the gas station clerk, and let’s just say it wiggled a little.

Social distancing

SB: This is the practice of staying 6 feet away from other humans. You’d think it would be an easy rule to follow. But there’s a large portion of the population who believe other people need to move.

Whether it’s entitled moms on bikes riding with children or people on bikes in general, can we please ride the bike in the street? Also, I understand people who like to zag when others zig about social distancing but please zag the hell away from me when possible.


BW: I’m playing a game during isolation called “Tally the Number of Times You Drink, Shower, Smoke and Gamble” where I count how often I … well, you get the picture. According to my chart, I drank more Svedka-San Pelligrino-Baja Blasts on Thursday than all the bathing combined — and Thursday was my lowest day. Anyway, enjoy that recipe, which Sean dubbed the “San Pelligringo,” and consider splashing some Bailey’s in a Swiss chocolate Monster.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

SB: Ahh, Big Fauc, my guy. He quickly became the Dr. James Andrews of COVID-19. While I’m sure he’d prefer to still be largely anonymous and not atop Donald Trump’s Most Desired Fire list, it’s nice seeing doctors get their due. Hopefully, this pandemic inspires a generation to pursue careers in health care and science.

Fauc is well on his way to being a clue in “Jeopardy” for eternity and that’s a lot better than being the best at new Vine.

Wash your hands

BW: There’s no point to scrubbing your paws when you’re just getting them dirty again on an average of *checks chart* four times a day. It’s impossible to keep up with. Do you think I’ve had this cough for five months because I wasn’t using enough disinfectant? I was frequently rubbing myself down with Lysol wipes and all I got was a taint rash to go along with the cough. I did get a little bottle of hand sanitizer from a distillery but I’m saving that for an emergency, like if the liquor stores actually close down. As a hands-related aside, never pick your nose with the same finger you just scratched your butt with.


SB: I swear this word is made up. It’s like someone created it because they didn’t want to write out “Compromised immune system” and, instead of going to “at risk” on second reference, opted for “Immunocompromised.”

I’d like to be endowedoplenty or supercalifragilisticexpialidopeAF but those aren’t real words.

New vocabulary gets added to the dictionary all the time, and I’m fine with that, but not when you make up a word more apt for your tweets. I understand the Twittersphere is currently a barren desert for sports news but don’t compensate for it by learning fake words to tweet to death, just get off Twitter.

The community

BW: Another phrase bandied about to make people feel like others actually care about them. When Kobe died, I wondered “Shit, what weird alternate reality did Primary Ben slip into?” Little did I know that soon … oh well. Oof, Replica Ben 46 just reported that in his timeline, Kobe Bryant succumbed to coronavirus. Guess that makes everything even (except the part where they wear underwear as hats).

Parallel realities can be a hard thing to internalize, yet somehow their existence is comforting. I like to think that when Alternate Universe Bens were asked to run away to Europe with the women they were in love with, most of them had the courage to say yes. I like to think every Alternate Ben does the opposite of what I do. I like to think, as Primary Ben, I am carrying the cross for all of them, but maybe that’s just the 4/20 specials and “Black Jesus” binges talking.

Essential worker

SB: There are essential workers like firefighters, police officers and health care workers, and then there are the people operating on the fringe of essential.

Denver tried to make liquor store clerks and weed shop workers nonessential and then everyone, including me, freaked out and turned Sid’s Suds into whatever grocery Jamie Lee Curtis shopped at during “Christmas with the Kranks.” If you think ladies fighting a fictional battle over Hickory Honey Ham is a lot then you haven’t seen a trophy wife hoard Milagro Silver.

Technically, Ben and I are essential workers. Other than making sure newspapers are pretty, accurate and spellchecked, we produce a well-written column, which also is, by definition, essential.

Stay safe

BW: The same people who are hiking 5 miles to the Highland Bowl with nary a ski patroller on duty are telling me to be careful when I’m just sitting on my couch watching people on my Facebook feed grow crazier by the post? Thanks. Yes, we’re all having fun pretending that little viruses use our shoulders as springboards to leap onto anyone who comes within the arbitrary 6-foot distance for an iota of a second, but you know we can’t actually visually see them doing so, right? This is all in God’s hands now, and let’s hope he hasn’t washed them in retaliation for the whole Pontius Pilate thing.

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