Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

31 March 2011

All Before 2.00p

Two stories. Unrelated. Mostly silly.

I

I went to a series of talks this morning on campus that is supposed to be educational for graduate students as they try to find faculty positions. When the University sponsors these things things I like to go, and it was really helpful, actually, and there was free food at lunchtime.

But at some point this one boring guy was talking about funding and the office of funding on campus or somesuch business – it was boring; I've forgotten – and he referred to something as a "Mexican standoff" and then awkwardly sort of said "sorry about the metaphor" in this way that people have nowadays where they acknowledge the fact that they know what they've said is inappropriate but that they don't actually care whether or not it is inappropriate and that we oughtn't to either.

Now, I am not really sure if I think the phrase "Mexican standoff" is offensive. Mostly because I don't know why it would be offensive, but the moment this guy says it, and then follows it up with his not-at-all-an-apology apology, I get a little angry. I'm mad, of course, at the fact that he thinks it is unimportant that we  care about whether or not language is offensive. In other words, what is offensive is his attitude, here, not his "Mexican standoff" phrase.

And then a lovely young woman at my table says to her companion: Why does it have to be a Mexican standoff? Why can't it just be a standoff?
Thank you, I said. What about this standoff (in the office of the United States government, it should be pointed out) makes it Mexican?

II

And then on the way home, I am behind a rather nice, family sedan:
The bumper sticker says I see your point but I still think you're full of shit. 

You'll notice that on the sticker itself the last three words are considerably larger than the rest of the text. This means that the person behind this car reads full of shit before she reads the remainder of the sticker. The overall effect is quite classy.