By Michelle Martin

Rules for Tongue Use

I am going to take off all my clothes. After I do that, I will be totally nude. Friends, I use this risqué scenario to draw your attention to a subject you might otherwise find rather boring. It's a subject that is dear to my heart (which you can practically see because I'm so naked) - articulate speech.

Please don't go! Read the first two sentences again and notice how they clearly convey my point. They are clean, direct, simple, easily understood. I mean, like, they do not " what they don't do " like, I mean, if you look at " well, start with the first one and then can you see" if you go back first to the second and then think - with both at the same time, you can see; forget about the actual content because that isn't what they need to " the point is, like, they're really much better than they would be if, like, they sounded all like this. You know what I mean?

Naked, clothed, or in a suggestive state of semi-undress, we all need to be able to clearly communicate what's on our minds. Increasingly this is becoming a lost art. It is a tragedy that is casting an ugly pall on everything. Yes, everything.

Here is an actual transcript of an actual e-mail a guy sent to employees at a company where my ex works (he forwarded it to me because he knew I'd be properly outraged, just as I was when he did bad things in our relationship, but I digress.)

Weekly the bathroom located near the kitchen is entered to have discovered that one of the items that is needed in there is out paper towels, toilet paper, toilet covers). There is a closet right outside the door that is a storage room for these items. Please, when you use the last of whatever in the bathroom, enter that closet and replace it.

To this I must say, whatever! That's a dumb e-mail! What an idiot! I would never take off my clothes in front of that guy! So you see immediately the grave implications of inarticulate speech: You may not get laid as often as you'd like. There are other consequences, though perhaps not as dire: Your career may not progress as quickly as you want; you may have an argument when you try to return something at Macy's because you're not making it clear that you're a nice person and there's no need for hostility; people like me will think you're dumb and dislike you; you could be unpopular and not receive many party/happy hour invitations; you could end up hanging out with other people who sound dumb, and then you would not learn anything because you would not understand what your new friends were talking about.

The list goes on for a long time. As did my outrage at my ex. Perhaps we can rant about that next time.

As is my custom, I will present solutions to these problems on which I cast light! My RX for idiotic motherfuckertongue, in a nutshell, is this: Be like Hemingway and Henry Miller. You can use that as a sort of mantra when you want to impress someone, get laid, or sound smart for some other, lesser reason. Before you speak, say to yourself, "Be like Hemingway and Henry Miller." If you haven't read these masters you may not know what that entails. I will tell you. It means you should be very concise, you should not stick in a bunch of dumb filler such as "like," "you know," or "I'm all," and you should be graphic and profane to the greatest extent possible.

Please consider these recommendations for your everyday conversation.

Old bad words/phrases, now okay:
  • Fuck (or fuck you or fuck off)
  • Shit
  • Goddamn it
  • Cocksucker
  • Son of a bitch
New bad words/phrases:
  • All
  • Like
  • All like
  • Like all
  • I mean
  • I go
  • Bubble up
  • You know

Follow these rules, be clever, and I for one will consider having sex with you, since I'm already naked anyway.
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