Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Very, Very Special Furniture Store (An inspiring tale for word whores)

Every town has retail stores. Many have manufacturers. Some even have retail stores where you can buy directly from manufacturers. They’re called outlet stores. But one town is so special, so above all others, that it couldn’t stand to have its combination manufacturer-retailers clumped in with all those other lesser “outlets.”

That’s why, here in L.A., we have a “manutailer.”

H.D. Buttercup, a Los Angeles furniture emporium where buyers purchase directly from manufacturers, proudly embraces the “manutailer” label. So proudly, in fact, that when the store owners rolled out their "manutailer" campaign they scored some big-time free publicity — an all-about-them story in the Los Angeles Times.

Because, if you think about it, what better way to convince the press that you’re doing something new and newsworthy than by doing something old and attaching a funny- and new-sounding word to it?

For example, cosmetics company Bobbi Brown has a groundbreaking signature product called “tinted moisturizer.” It takes about $50 and one week to realize that “tinted moisturizer” is just an inverted way of saying “oily foundation.”

It just goes to show you there’s a land of opportunity out there for clever wordsmiths who don’t get nauseous no matter how much they spin. And don’t worry that the new words you pioneer are completely empty. Three years later, when your word is all but forgotten and you’ve made a fool out of anyone who suggested it was a harbinger of the future, you’ll be long gone.

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Joel said...

When I saw the title, my first response was, "Ooh, this one's directed especially to me." But, having given it a moment's reflection and especially after reading these two sad examples, I've decided that I'm not so much a whore as a slut. I'm verbally promiscuous, but I have my standards (loose as they may be). Indeed, I think the thing is that I believe in the verbal/literary/intellectual equivalent of free love. Folks should be conjugating and words should be copulating and we should look deep into the soul of as many sentences as we can. But love shouldn't be plied for power or traded for whatever currency. It just shouldn't. And it makes me feel dirty just thinking about it. And I don't mean "dirty" in any kind of fun way.

"Manutailer" is just, well, blechish. "Tinted moisturizer" is at best pedestrian.

You see, kids, that's what happens when God's gift is prostituted and corrupted.

June Casagrande said...

Yeah, I was talkin' that whole "pearls-to-swine" thing. You know, like "Crumbleivable!"


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