I know what you’re going to think” that I have some ridiculous obsession with the dictionary. That I spend all my nights thinking about the new word I’m going to learn the next day, and that I have a huge wall-hanging devoted to Webster and Roget. Well I don’t. This entry is entirely coincidental, and should be noted as such.
Some days you wake up and look to the newspaper to find highly (by “highly”, I mean “moderately”) intelligent and informative discussion on world issues. Today, that was not the case. I enjoy reading the letters to the editor, just to see what some idiot is complaining about this time. The thing about letters to the editor that interests me the most is that, in order to actually get a letter published, you have to be so offended by something that you’d actually take the time to sit down and write a whole, long diatribe and then actually send it in to the newspaper. The length of time that this takes is usually what weeds out the people who are just kinda annoyed, from those who are genuine activists. I mean, I think it would usually be a two-day operation, and by the second day, you’d re-read it, say “This isn’t worth complaining about”, rip up the paper, and throw it away. Again, today, that was not the case.
What follows may indeed be the stupidest letter to the editor I’ve EVER read. And I mean EVER. The letter in question refers to an article on the front page (of which the merits will be discussed later) of the Allentown Morning Call’s October 5th edition. The article was in regards to what I’m sure is the gala event of the lexicographical calendar” the unveiling of this year’s new Webster’s Dictionary words. I imagine it to be like a car show, where they lift the sheet off of a big sign with the word on it, and everyone in the audience OOHs and AHHHs. Anyway, seeing as how it’s the dictionary, and it has just about every word imaginable, it’s getting harder to find new words to put in every year. This year, one of the “words” is… I’m not kidding, “Bikini wax”. I guess this is justified, as this phrase has an entirely (by “entirely”, I mean “somewhat”) different meaning than just the sum of the two words.
You wouldn’t think that someone would be offended by a dictionary. But someone was. Monicaann F. Spade of Allentown was bold enough to write the following letter.
“Regarding the Oct. 5 article “Check Latest Dictionary”: Did they have to put in “Bikini wax?” Isn’t anything private anymore? What happened to good, clean dictionary words?”
I’m not exactly sure what Dictionary this person is reading (perhaps the “My First Dictionary”), but in mine, I can find at least ten examples of words that you couldn’t even say on FX at eleven at night. “Good, clean, dictionary words”. Does this man/woman not understand that the purpose of the dictionary isn’t to be selective in what words are chosen to be in it? It’s a damn dictionary. Its job is to include every word and abbreviated phrase in the language so that someone knows what it is.
Imagine you’re a woman and you come from France or somewhere like that. You don’t know English, and you make new friends who decide that before your big trip to Laguna Beach or wherever, you all should go for a bikini wax. Having no idea what they’re saying, and possibly (going solely on the stereotypes here) being against bikini waxes, you go to look it up in the dictionary, except it’s not there. You see bikini: swimsuit, and wax: (probably a scientific description of the makeup of wax). You think “oh, I’m getting a new swimsuit made out of this wonderful waterproof material”. You’re screwed.
Three questions about this person cross my mind. 1) Why would you take offense to this, or even care, especially after the newspaper printed, in gruesome detail, the crimes committed by 22 ex-ministers against children; the article that totally ruined my morning and week for that matter? 2) Why would you feel the actual need to write a letter to a newspaper that can do nothing about the Dictionary’s policies (maybe hoping to spark a protest of something incredibly stupid?), and 3) Why would you ignore the more important issue of “Why the hell is this article on the front page anyway, instead of a more important story which was probably buried in the back of the section?”
Anyway, I think you get my point.
This letter to the editor receives 1 star as it was the most dumb and unwarranted complaint I’ve ever read in the paper, but it provided me with five minutes of laughter and fifteen minutes worth of review fodder.