Kangaroo poo and Jurassic park!By John Libby
"...The True Blue Roo Poo Company: Palpably the Planet's Premier Purveyors of Painstakingly Presented Pristine and Pulchritudinous Poo Products..."
This is what came up on the screen when I was surfing for Tasmanian Devils in order to help with my son's university essay.
I wouldn't have taken an inordinate amount of notice but for that word "pulchritudinous ". It's one of those words I come across in books every once in a while and promise myself that, one-day, I'll look up. Microsoft Word's spell check balked at the word pulchritudinous as did the 300,000 word dictionary I keep on my Windows 98 desk top. So just what did it mean?
Now, here I must confess that, although I earn a large part of my meager living as a writer, I try not to use words that I don't know the meanings of. Here though, was one of those words I wouldn't have minded using if I could only find out what it meant and in what context it could politely be used. Furthermore, earning my keep as a copywriter and sometime humor columnist over the past 5 years has required a surprisingly small vocabulary and one CD ROM based dictionary which I paid something like $10 for.
Mind you, pulchritudinous wasn't the only word that I didn't know the meaning of once I was drawn into The True Blue Roo Poo Company's site. There was the word "scats." There was something tantalizingly familiar about that word and I just knew that I'd have to find what it meant or be plagued by it until I did. Words are like that with me. With some people it's Barry Manilow songs that haunt them until they find a way of exorcising them but with me it's words.
I recalled how, in a high school debating team years ago, Terry Fillmore had accused me of being "scatological" which I took to be just another of Terry Fillmore's hybrid/composite words. Scatty and illogical I probably was at the time anyway.
So, it was a somewhat surprised Terry Fillmore who answered the phone to a guy he hadn't heard from for at least 10 years who wanted to know the meaning of a word he'd called him in 1979. It must have looked like was a little slow catching on. "Scatology", said Terry a little nervously, " is an obsession with excrement". I thanked him and he went quiet. I waited. He didn't say anything. So I had to.
"So you were actually saying that I was full of shit then Terry. Is that right?" "Yeah", said Terry "but that was a hell of a long time ago Pete." I put him at ease by explaining that I wasn't looking for a fight, I just wanted to know the meaning, if meaning there was, of the word scatological. While I was about it I asked him if he knew the meaning of the word pulchritudinous. "I do indeed" said Terry. "It means possessing physical beauty. Why, did somebody call you that too?"
At this point I didn't quite know how to wind up the conversation. I suppose I could have asked how his wife was but I couldn't remember who he had married, I couldn't ask about his mother in case she'd died and I'd never known her anyway. I asked about his job.
"I work for the municipality"
"Oh, what do you do there?"
"I'm a garbage collector, have been for almost 20 years"
"What do you do these days Pete?"
"I'm a sort of.....journalist I suppose you could say"
"And you're asking me the meaning of words. I thought you guys would have all the dictionaries under the sun"
I couldn't stop thinking about Terry Fillmore who went on to university when I couldn't make the grade. He was both manager and proprietor of a razor sharp wit and, at times, an acid tongue, which left everybody either doubled over laughing or wondering whether or not they were being made fun of.
But what has all this to do with my opening paragraph you ask? Well, not a lot but some of the world's best journalism most probably came from being side tracked. Look at Samuel Taylor Coleridge who ended his famous poem Kubla Khan with the words "The man from Porlock came." He just became side tracked by the visitor from Porlock and had to end the poem, for which he is best known, in mid air.
But I'm becoming side tracked. The True Blue Roo Poo Company who use words like pulchritudinous and scats are not your run-of-the-mill poo vendors. No, someone like Terry Fillmore must have written the copy for their site. And whoever they are, they'd have had to have been as sharp as Terry to have woven so humorous a sales pitch around products they're selling.
Products which include such savory items as:
Kangaroo excrement in jars.
Earrings made from Koala Bear poo.
Paperweights containing Tasmanian Devil poo gilded in 23 carat gold leaf.
It's all done with that British style Pythonesque sense of humor that Terry had. Full of Terry like quips too; "untouched by human gland - guaranteed to be absolute shit or your money back - no refunds, you bought shit, you got shit" etc. etc." And references to Tutenkhamen, Sotheby's Auctions and Jurassic Park.
While nothing I find on the net any longer shocks me, I do sometimes wonder what kind of mind comes up with a concept like selling coated koala bear poo jewelry and suggests that it "...should be compared with the surface to air, heat seeking suppository." Most definitely a touch scatological I'd say although the pulchritudinuity of their wordsmithery is music to a fellow copywriter's ear.
But does the world really have a use for such products as gilded Tasmanian Devil poo paperweights. The company themselves seem to think so. They suggest that NASA should be firing them "...into the outer reaches of the universe to be found by more advanced civilizations. They're sure to be picked up by even the most short sighted of aliens as they see them go by, gold flashing, as they spin round in the reflection of a thousand suns. Gilded Devil Dumps can show them just how far we humans down here on earth have come..."
Short sighted aliens? I thought all aliens were ahead of us in that respect.
Terry Fillmore isn't on the net and tells me he never will be. It's a pity. I'm sure he'd only have to apply to the True Blue Roo Poo Company for a copywriter's job and he'd be snapped up by the boys at www.roopooco.com