Cover Your Khyber

From the Playboy Blog, 10/29/07


I have a dangerous tendency towards blunt speech. I mean physically dangerous. I can still feel the stings and bruises I’ve received for my loose tongue, and even carry a scar on my neck from my angry ex-girlfriend’s nails (she’ll probably beat me again when she reads this).

But guys like me are in luck. This week, R.W. Holder releases the newest edition of his book, How Not to Say What You Mean: A Dictionary of Euphemisms. Holder has made a truly exhaustive search to catalogue our evasive speech, and his findings are a testament to human creativity. When I first got my hands on Holder’s dictionary, I thought of it as a funny book to flip through while I was bored. Now I realize it has much greater value as a resource. 

Perhaps if I’d told the women I met this past summer that I was “at liberty,” rather than “an unemployed deadbeat,” they would at least have taken the time to make an excuse before running in the opposite direction. If only I’d had the sense to tell my friend that I “bestowed my enthusiasm on [to copulate promiscuously with]” his sister (who happens to be quite a “bit of crumpet” [a woman viewed sexually by men]), maybe I wouldn’t have forfeited his extra Yankees tickets. 
No matter what your minor faults are, Holder probably offers a way to gloss over them. Even President Bush could benefit. Instead of telling Condoleezza Rice “I may need a bathroom break” in the middle of a meeting with the UN General Assembly, he might have said “I need to visit the House of Commons.” A bit more professional sounding, though perhaps a slight to our steadfast allies across the pond.
Thank you, R.W. Holder, for allowing the verbally uninhibited among us to tap into the centuries-old tradition of deceit that the English language has to offer.

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