Ever notice how heretofore neglected words and phrases somehow worm their way into the popular lexicon and stay until we’re ready to strangle the next poor schmuck who makes the mistake of uttering them?
You know – “state of the art” or “Wassup?”
Remember when just about everything was described as “uber”?
Then there are those pop-eyed twits lurking around every corner ready to ask “Is that your final answer?” whenever they’re threatened by a halfway intelligent conversation.
(I think there are still a few of those hanging out in front of the feed store in Appanoose, Iowa. Don’t talk to ’em, not even a harmless “Wassup?”)
“Bodacious” and “humongous” have both had their 15 minutes of fame in popular American parlance, although – thank God! – “uber-humongous” has yet to nudge its way into our everyday conversation.
Virtually all of these periodically popular words and phrases owe their fleeting celebrity to the mass media, whether represented by a hit TV show, a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign or the words to a crowd-pleasing country ballad about love and beer and dogs.
Judging from the daily mountain of press releases we receive here at the newspaper, the next Great American Buzzword is about to be born. The public relations and advertising industries have spoken. The time is now and the word is:
Every other travel brochure, fashion story or entertainment promo that comes across my desk these days has at least two, and as many as five, “exquisites” included in lengthy descriptions of everything from operas to patio chairs.
It may not happen today, or even tomorrow, but prepare yourself – sooner or later you’re going to find the word “exquisite” rolling off your tongue without the slightest hesitation.
Sheer exquisiteness will permeate our culture with all the speed and determination of a Mediterranean fruit fly infestation.
One morning you’ll get up, brush your teeth and, grinning maniacally into the bathroom mirror, pronounce your smile “exquisite.”
You’ll ease your way into an exquisite work shirt, compliment your wife on her exquisitely brewed coffee, drive your exquisite 1975 Dodge down to Sledge’s Garage for an exquisite lube and oil change, followed by Sledge’s heartfelt wish that you have an exquisite day as you drive off to your job at the exquisitely appointed camcrusher bolt factory.
Scary? You bet, but it’s only a matter of time until you’re living the exquisite life thanks to America’s media mavens and their ability to saturate the nation with just the right buzz word at just the right time.
Cops will be making exquisite drug busts, the Seattle Seahawks will be making exquisite tackles (Hey, it could happen!) and Ace Hardware will come out with an exquisite new line of framing hammers.
The good news is, our latest buzz word should probably disappear within three months or so.
The bad news is, Elton John may be spotted in an uber-exquisite new cummerbund before that happens…
Originally published May 20, 2001