Vocabularily Challenged

This week, Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow and her rockstar husband, Chris Martin, announced that they are divorcing.  Excuse me – that’s incorrect. They called their decision to dissolve their marriage “conscious uncoupling.”

These are the same people who named a kid “Apple,” so it’s not shocking.  But call it what you will, Gwynnie, it’s still a dee-vorce.

Have you noticed how many euphemisms we throw around on a daily basis?  What was the plain old dog pound when I was growing up became “animal control.”  Now it’s “animal care and protective services.”    Getting fired is now a “workforce imbalance correction.”  And being “intensely convivial” is an upgrade from “three sheets to the wind,” which really means being so drunk you couldn’t pronounce any of those words correctly.

Several years ago, I got off of the Rockin’ Rollercoaster at Disneyworld and almost stepped in a protein spill.  That’s what the Disney princesses call vomit.

Euphemisms are a way of softening words so they don’t sound as bad as they really are.   We do it all the time – people “pass away” rather than die.  We “put down” a beloved pet.  The toilet is called a “restroom.”

When I was a kid, the waste treatment plant (there’s another one!) in the county where I lived began taking human waste (okay, poop) and turning it into small pellets that could be used as fertilizer.   It was called sludge, and it was free to anyone willing to go get it.  My dad did, and it’s a long story, but it might or might not have led to my own conscious non-coupling many years later.  You can read about that here.

These days, that sludge has been renamed.  Now called “bisolids,” those pellets are no longer free.  A bag of GroCo, a mixture of sawdust and Washington State biosolids called “Loop,” costs around $5.  A dump truck load large enough to spread that product one inch deep over an acre would cost over $4,000.  Do you see what they did there?  They renamed it, and people were willing to pay for it.  That human excrement began flying off the shelves.

I’m not sure people are buying what Gwyneth Paltrow is selling, though.  It feels like her renaming of divorce makes her just a little bit better than the rest of us dee-vor-cees, doesn’t it?   It’s as if divorcing is for the unaware and unenlightened.  When you have your shit together, as she so obviously does, it becomes “conscious uncoupling.”

And she wonders why she couldn’t get elected if she ran for animal containment official.


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