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Turn Your Head and Cough #11
by Jason Torchinsky

This morning I decided to try a new shampoo. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is to me, as the old one gave me really bad breath and made my Grape Nuts stick together in the bowl. As you can imagine, and, no doubt, do, I also use it for washing hair, both my own and anybody down on their luck enough to require my services. Anyway, since this was a new shampoo, I decided that this time I was going to begin everything right. I was going to get in that shower and shampoo properly, I mean a textbook shampooing job. In order to do this I had to read the instructions on the bottle, no mean feat, whatever the hell that means.

So I get in the shower, take off my socks, and proceed to read the back of the shampoo bottle. After scanning through the ingredients, the recipes, and the crossword, I found the directions, which read: Lather, rinse, repeat. I began. I lathered up my head, rinsed it out, and then repeated the tripartite process. Lathered, rinsed, repeated. Lathered, rinsed repeated.

After about two hours I was starting to believe that I was caught in some sort of endless loop. The instructions provided no way out! I was condemned to keep repeating, lathering and rinsing until the end of my days? I cursed myself for reading the back of the bottle and removing me from the sweet ignorance I once lived happily in. What was I to do?

Luckily, the solution presented itself, as my two hour shower took its toll on my already weak bathroom fixtures, causing my bathroom floor to collapse, collapsing my stall shower around me like Godzilla surrounded by falling sky scrapers. I hit my head on the edge of the toilet, cracking through it as though it were composed of Melba toast, which I actually regarded as a fortunate occurence, as my body was so wrinkly from my shower that it would have been far worse to remain conscious and have to look at it.

When I awoke, up to my elbows in cold, sudsy water and my teeth, my hair was more conditioned and manageable than I had ever dreamed possible, freeing my mind for other pursuits. Naturally, these other pursuits will be almost wholly irrelevant to the smooth workings of your lives, dear readers, and I shall describe them to you at great length, so go call the kids.

I've been thinking a good bit about language lately, as I've been using it for, oh, going on five years now. What I've been thinking about has to do with expressions- certain goofball expressions that I just don't get. I just can't figure out why people choose to speak these things.

Take the expression "Long time no see." What the hell is that? Sure, I'm no idiot, at least that's the story I'm sticking to until the trial's over, I know when it's used and what it means. It's used when two overweight, mouth-breathing middle aged men see each other at some midsummer cookout. It's usually said loudly and accompanied by a firm handshake. It's meaning is clear enough that even my friends in the petri dish can figure out what its's said for. But why people choose to use an expression that makes them sound like some bad American Indian movie chief is beyond my grasp. I always kind of half expect to hear something like "many moons pass since last visit to tribe" after "long time no see." Is it cool to talk with no idea of pronouns or any sort of grammar? Will it bring me babes by the truckload if I start changing my diction so that it is more along the lines of Frankenstein's monster?

I don't know. There's more of these kinds of dorky expressions, too. Like "no can do" and "no go." I guess maybe these kinds of Tarzan-inspired dialogue is for people who are just too damn busy and don't have the time to say "I can't do that" or "I haven't seen you in a while."

Then there's an expression that doesn't really make any sense grammatically or in meaning. I am, of course, talking about "be that as it may." Until I sat down and really gave the expression some thought, which I found I couldn't do standing, I thought I kind of understood the expression. It seems that people use it when they want to say "okay, you're right, but..." but not even that, really. It doesn't really say that something is right, it just kind of says that something is. I think. What it says is nothing. Nothing at all. It's just a random accretion of words, as far as I can tell, that people use to stall with.

Let's take a closer look at this expression. It starts with "be," a verb of, well, being, existing I guess, and then it has "that," which references whatever was just said before, and then it has "as," one of those parts of speech that I was never sure of but I suppose means something along the lines of...oh, I don't know. You know what I mean. (Vague hand gesture that resembles a pair of monkeys fighting over some applesauce) And then it ends with "may" which means something like "might." There. Now, lets look back on our efforts and make some sense. Oh, don't even bother. I've tried, oh, how I've tried. Save yourself the frustration. Trust me. It has no meaning. A hoax. A rube. A ploy. A sham of a fraud of a scam of a hoodwink con grifter ruse.

And then there's expressions which are still easy to figure out meaning, somehow, but there is nothing to account for the way they sound. "Believe you me?" What the hell is this? Why is it that when so many people want me to believe them they say "believe you me?" What are they doing, channeling Yoda? Why are all the words mixed up? Shouldn't it at least be "You believe me?" What the hell's going on? What are they trying to hide? Is there something I'm not being told? Huh? What is it, come on, you've got to tell me, you can't get away with this, I'll...I'll...Oh, madness. Darkness.

Oh! I'm sorry. please forgive me. I don't know why this has been getting to me so. Maybe it's my new job. I'm a part-time product tester for this pharmaceutical company that makes anesthetics, and I guess the job is just taking toll, especially when you consider that this is the first time I've been awake this week. Also, it takes me about a solid minute to blink my eyes. One at a time. Oh, well. With tips, the money's pretty good, so I'll go on. Thanks for bearing with me. I'm sorry I may have frightened you- tell you what, I'll send you a fruit basket. Okay? Good. That's my reader. That's my reader! Good reader! Solidarity.

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