Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Words That Should Get a Divorce (One in an occasional series on words whose relationships have grown tired)

peals and laughter

Once upon a time, back when it was still kosher to make fun of Siegfried and Roy, I visited their Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. (Some of you are already seeing a potential connection with peals of laughter. But the comedy gets better.)

I visited the exhibit after having seen their show. (See, I told you the comedy gets better.) As the show began, the lights dimmed and the dramatic music began. Then, about four seconds after the curtain went up, I looked over at my fiance Ted, and noticed he was choking with laughter. The show was, well, a little flamboyant by his standards.

It was almost worth the $100-a-ticket and two-drink minimum just for this precious memory alone. Almost.

The Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, however, I loved unabashedly. (Well, it got a little abashed when listening to the recorded audio tour, in which Roy himself spoke of a deep, almost mystical connection he experienced one time when looking into the eyes of one of his white tigers. The story went something like this: Roy and the tiger were wrestling, and then at one point the tiger just looked into Roy's eyes and Roy could see that the tiger had been taken over by the savage animal inside. He was going to kill Roy. And then he didn't -- a testament to Roy's magical connection with the beasts. Quite a story, huh?)

But the animals were cool. All the literature and audio assure visitors that the animals only sit a few hours a week in the zoo and spend most of their time happily roaming on wide expanses of land.

The Dolphin Habitat was especially entertaining, and afforded me a chance to ask a question I'd always wanted to know: If dolphins must keep moving at all times, how do they sleep?

The guide/dolphin expert answered: They're not sure, but they think that they sleep one half of their brains at a time.

And with that, we arrive back at my original point, because, by my math, that's half a brain more than is needed to write the brain-dead, overused, spewed-without-thinking cliche that is peals of laughter. Further, I'd bet that anyone who uses the term would do no better than your typical dolphin at answering the question: What's a peal?

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