Stimulate This Package

If I hear one more person use the phrase ‘stimulus package’ and they’re not a CNN correspondent, I’m going to punch someone in the throat.

If you get a rebate on the Canon printer at Best Buy, you’re getting a stimulus package. If you get a room for $89.99 at Days Inn, you’re getting a stimulus package. In yesterday’s paper, a cartoon frog told me he would give me a stimulus package on a great deal on a Kia. I don’t think cartoon frogs should be talking about stimulus packages. Whatever they say should start out, “Hey kids!” and end similarly, with no long words between.

They used to be called sales and deals and bargains but now you can seal the deal and let everyone know you’ve been paying attention to Fox News, just by name dropping a stimulus package.

Stimulus package this, you pea brains. I hate when people latch onto a catch phrase and use it to death. Next they’ll turn it into a verb, the next natural step in ruining a perfectly good noun phrase. Just waterboard me, why don’t you?

The problem is that almost anything can be stimulating and almost anything can be called a package. Thus, everything from a can of Amp to a pair of underpants can be called a stimulus package, particularly if they’re on sale. And no matter how you use it, someone can say “that’s what she said,” or “in bed” and it’s funny.

I hesitate to take on the annihilation of stimulus package as my next big project, because if I’m successful (and it’s possible; I have a lot of time on my hands and unlimited long distance) there will just be another phrase ready to jump in and take its place.

The LA Times, in an editorial about the American Dialect Society’s choice of Word of the Year for 2008, offered up a list of phrases it’s tired of hearing, seeing and reading.

Among them, “from Wall Street to Main Street,” “czar,” “recessionista,” “Phelpsian,” the “No Child” series (No Child Left Behind, No Child Left Untested, No Child Left Inside, No Child Left Accidentally at Sbarro’s on the Turnpike), “Blagojevich as a verb (as in, “You better not blagojevich this project or you’ll never get on Larry King.”), “staycation” (as in, “I’m not getting no stimulus package, so instead of going to Branson this year I’m taking a staycation in Beaver Township.”) and some others that I was not familiar with, probably because the people I hang with are not as sophisticated as the LA Times newsroom. For instance, I didn’t recognize “getting a haircut” as a political strategy phrase. Maybe because it was often used with Blagojevich and those two seemed to go together so well.

The American Dialect Society had lots of good words and phrases to choose from last year. People love making up trends by using words to show how aware they are of pop culture. Some people thought “change” or “pork” might be chosen, but those two were used so much in 2008 that they surpassed intolerance and we don’t even really see or hear them anymore. By the end of the election, whenever Obama said “change” and McCain said “pork” we started to hear Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice, the bike horn.

The 2008 Word of the Year chosen by the American Dialect Society was “bailout.” (Booooooring!) For 2007 it was “subprime” (Wake me when we get to a good one) and in 2006 it was “plutoed” (There you go!). “Plutoed,” a verb of course, as in “we no longer recognize your value in the workplace and we’re demoting you. You’re now just a medium-sized meteor and can go make me some coffee. You’ve just been plutoed.”

Since we’re almost into the second quarter of this year, does anyone have any suggestions for the 2009 Word of the Year? Send me your votes and we’ll choose one together. At the rate we’re going, my guess is that it could be either “slum dog,” “green” or “carbon footprint.” Whaddya think?

Labels: , , , ,