I may not be ready for HDTV but my opinions have been useful in the redecorating process. However, while I see and appreciate the differences...at a certain point...the specific shade is so minute that its nothing to stress over. Therefore, I do not relish buying paint. Instead, the highlight of the trip to the paint store is reading the funny names they give for each color. For example, did you know that when it comes to brownish-yellow, gourmet mustard is lighter than crunchy peanut butter and baby poop is somewhat deeper.
I guess my love of ranking words began in my pre-adolescent days. That talent developed from watching TV. When it was sharpened, I put it to superior use when insulting my friends.
Remember when Moe of the "THREE STOOGES" called Curley an ignoramus. Well I bet, he chose that word over simpleton, blockhead, lame-brain or numb skull because it fit the exact situation. In reality, Moe had countless slang words to choose from plus a dozen or so clinical variations. Years ago, I stumbled onto a list if these clinical terms. What made the find more interesting was that synonyms like; imbecile, cretin, moron, idiot and dolt were ranked in ascending order with the first word being the most severe.
I wanted to research that list for this column but I couldn't find it again. However, I did find the following chart written by French psychologist Alfred Binet in 1911:
- MORON .......... IQ BETWEEN.......... 51-70
- IMBECILE ...... IQ BETWEEN..........26-50
- IDIOT ............... IQ BETWEEN........... 0-25
Unfortunately for me, the article I read with Binet's list also went on to say that since around 1970, all those words have become synonymous.
That's not good enough for me. I feel now the same way I did as a kid. You should always have a strong picture in your mind when labeling someone as a dope because dope is milder than calling them a jerk. And, if there were no adults around, you might want to call that person an ass. For me, at the tender age of seven, the real show stopper in my circles was calling someone; mental...as in mental case. Today, we'll examine two incidents of my childhood where I cleverly used it.
PART - ONE
From pre-school age, I had a friend up the street who was especially dumb. By second grade I recognized that he was brain-dead. I tried every name in the book to shunt him aside. Nothing insulted him. He finally got the message when I called him mental.
At that point of my life, I did normal 1962 Canarsie activities like; vandalize the newly constructed homes on the next street, throw mud pies at girls and go hunting for rats at the creek (with rocks...no I never caught one). Thus, I grew up to be the well-adjusted man you all know and admire.
This odd-ball kid remained strange. He once swallowed a dime, nickel and penny. Forever burnt into my mind is his little swirly tracheotomy scar at his throat and his father's quote, "At least my dimwit son is now worth 16 cents." This kid took pride in getting in trouble and never did schoolwork. He was never "left-back" in school but he was barely literate. The older bullies picked on him but this doofus just took it with an empty grin...even when they beat him up.
Years later in junior high, (1970) another kid and I were playing stickball in my driveway. Across the street, a procession of low-life, juvenile offenders from my grade knocked on this genius's door. He let them in. Some time passed and suddenly, the mental guy exploded in terror out of his own house. He jumped off the porch and ran to safety across the street. Seconds later, a full glass jar of Fox's U-Bet chocolate syrup was hurled through the glass (from the inside) of the storm door.
The swarm of hoodlums-in-training came out onto the porch and taunted the poor schmuck as the smashed jar, oozed chocolate sauce onto the walkway. The harsh ridicule continued as the budding criminals dared him to come back in. When they pretended to run after him...he fled.
A year later that knucklehead's family moved away. We never found out what happened to the inside of the house. That imbecile could have used me and my stickball buddy as witnesses but we were never approached. I hope this dunce doesn't try to find me on FACEBOOK. This is one case where I have no curiosity to find him or see whatever happened to him.
PART - TWO
A few days ago, another former friend from grade school found me on FACEBOOK. I ignored his "friend request" because of the abrupt end to our short friendship, at day camp. After all this time, I still remember the circumstances and the exact moment we parted company.
I was always a passionate New York Mets fan. I frequently mention that in my early years, I was the kid that would become blue in the face arguing that "Fat" Jack Fisher was better than Whitey Ford and that Ron Swoboda was going to be the next Ted Williams.
|"FAT" JACK FISHER'S MAJOR LEAGUE CAREER WAS SAVED WHEN EXPANSION IN 1961 AND 1962 ADDED FOUR NEW TEAMS. HE WAS BARELY MAJOR LEAGUE PEDIGREE BUT FOR THE WOEFUL NEW YORK METS (1964-1967) HE WAS THE BEST PITCHER THEY HAD.|
After the 1964 baseball season, the hated Yankees and their latest dynasty were thankfully, a thing of the past. All those years of having my lowly Mets trod upon by the arrogant Yankee fans and their tiresome sense of entitlement...were over...temporarily.
In the summer of 1967, I befriended the FACEBOOK member above. Of Eastern-European refugee parents, this die-hard Yankee fan was a chubby, non-athletic, uncool, brainiac...a Howard Cosell-type. That means he was more inclined to act as an umpire than to play ball.
When we found out that the big camp excursion was a Yankees versus Baltimore Orioles game the following week, this kid leaped (not especially high) for joy.
I tried to kill his buzz but in a fair argument, he could easily out debate me. So rather than lose, I went for his Achilles Heel, I referred to Mr. Mantle as Mickey Mental. At first, he didn't cry...which is admirable for a twelve year-old but when his emotions started getting the better of him, he scampered off, (actually, lumbered off is a better description).
Two days later, (June 27, 1967), we were supposed to go to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, to an Angling (fishing) Contest but it was postponed. I guess the camp had already rented the buses so they took us to a Mets versus Pirates game. Coincidentally, prior to the game, a sequence from the "ODD COUPLE" movie was filmed.
My "friend" and I were seated together and he naturally cheered for the opposition. I couldn't handle it so I struck up a deal. "If you root for the Mets now, next week, I'll root for the Yanks." This kid was an intelligent and fair person. I phrased it well, and he agreed.
The next week at Yankee Stadium (the only time my fanny was ever tarnished by one of their seats), we again sat next to each other. Benignly, I waited for game time as this kid, as if doing calligraphy, artistically entered the names in his scorecard. The only time he came up for air was to say, "Did you know, the Mick's playing first base this year." After I uttered a non-committal grunt, he smugly he added, "Today, he's naturally batting clean-up. Let's hope he hits one out."
I remained quiet until the first pitch was en route. Suddenly, I became especially obnoxious in rooting for the Orioles. When this kid whined in protest, "Hey we had a deal. I rooted for the Mets last week and now you HAVE to root for the Yankees!" I said, "*SCREW YOU and Mickey Mental!"
* MY MEMORY IS A LITTLE FUZZY..."SCREW YOU" (EVEN AT TWELVE YEARS-OLD) MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN THE WAY I PHRASED IT !
Earlier this week, his FACEBOOK request was the first time I had heard from him since that afternoon. I still can picture his huffy attitude as he shuffled away to another seat.
The moral of these two stories are; sticks and stones may break their bones but harsh words are easier to use and more fun. And if that's too corny remember this...whether it's well chosen foul language or the paint store calling light beige; "desert sand", "autumn straw" or "three week old mashed potatoes in Santa's beard," in the end, they're all pretty much the same !