Monday, October 24, 2016

Take Names, Not Prisoners!

Greetings, WYMOP readers!

A friend of mine was running a sale table at a convention this weekend, and I tried to send him a good luck text. Break a leg, I typed, but then sat there looking at it. Awfully violent, I thought, and backspaced it out. Kick ass and take names, I tried, but still stared at the screen all squinchy faced. “Wow,” I said, “why don’t I just get it over with and tell him to stab someone?” So I sat there and ran through some of the different phrases we use to wish someone success.
My God, we are a head-banging, face-smashing people.
“You have a thing you’re doing? Well, break a leg! Kick ass and take names!”
Seriously? We’re equating success—of any kind—to doing someone (or even ourselves) bodily harm? Look, unless you’re talking to a professional boxer or MMA fighter, personal physical damage shouldn’t be something you’re wishing on anyone. Unless, of course, you’re driving—I am a Masshole, after all. But aside from loudly praying a stroke, internal hemorrhaging, or a blitz-attack myocardial infarction on the driver of the slow-moving car in front of me with the left directional that won’t shut off, what’s with the destructive (and largely illegal) pro-victory expressions?
I’m not saying there aren’t any non-violent ways to wish someone good luck—look, there was one right there, simply saying good luck—but when we see someone beginning an endeavor we’re very likely to tell them to fight the good fight, or maybe take no prisoners. These are, of course, merely gateway sayings for the harder stuff: knock ’em dead, slay ’em, and the ever-popular gun reference, blow ’em away. Would any of these, if taken literally, have been appropriate for my friend, who’s a writer trying to build a fan base? Hmm . . . kind of hard to have repeat customers if everyone you deal with winds up a corpse littering the floor behind you.
Some might argue that you’re really wishing for them to whip some serious ass over their competition, but sometimes our competitors are actually contacts, and it’s called networking, not gravedigging. Also, I don’t know about you, but as a customer I think I’d find it hard to deal with someone who was dripping with the blood of their enemies, Conan the Barbarian-style. Might be just me.
This odd penchant for violent metaphor continues even into success. Someone who has done quite well has hit pay-dirt and made a killing, maybe with a smash hit. Failure is even worse, because the venture might blow up in their face and kill their chances, leaving them dead in the water—and if it was all over a decision they knew might be bad, or that went really wrong, then it might just be said that they cut their own throat.
Slay ’em? Make a killing? You cut their own throat? Jesus Christ!
More than slightly horrified, I tried to text my friend in a different way, tried to counterbalance some of the more traditional—and terrible—wishes for good fortune. I keyed in wishing you fluffy bunny success . . . then backspaced it out. He’d think I’d gone insane. I tried hugs and kisses, dude! Nope. Wrong message. Remember to be kind to the competition! Who was I, Stuart Smalley? Slowly, I keyed in the most basic non-violent wish for success I could think of:
Wishing you success!
My God, that looked like either a fortune cookie or one of those cheap-ass cards you can pick up at CVS at the last minute, when all the really good cards are gone. It wasn’t the kind of message usually sent by someone who claims to have a way with words. I hung my head and gave in, deciding to simply throw a twist into an old standby.
Kick ass, and remember to take names, not prisoners! I hit ꜱᴇɴᴅ. There, a twofer.
I’ve been thinking about it, trying to come up with something along the lines of wishing you fluffy bunny success that wouldn’t have people thinking I’d lost my mind, or were on drugs, or lost my mind on drugs, but I’m coming up dry. Everything either sounds crazy coming from me or has that last-card-on-the-rack blandness that, as a writer, I’d really like to avoid . . . so screw it, I’m going to follow another old standby saying: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. But like some reformed smoker who’s swung completely the other way and can only talk about how bad cigarettes are for you, I want to go at this violent wish thing whole hog.
So I have a reading tomorrow night, and I’m really hoping to talk the colons right out of those people, you know? Just leave body parts everywhere. I’m at a book sale in Salem this weekend as well, and I hope to puree the competition, and then eat them after making sure they’re cooked to a proper, safe temperature, before pooping them into the swamp behind the old power plant while reading reviews of their work.
Yeah. Take that.
What’s your favorite way to wish someone good luck in something? Do you have a creative way to buck someone up for success? If so, tell me about it, I’d love to read it—and it doesn’t have to be violent, though apparently we really don’t mind if it is.

Talk to you later!

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