We all use these. Politicians use them a lot. We typically call it “spin” when they do it.
Some euphemisms are intended just to take the rough edge off of an expression that might be considered hurtful. For example, I cannot tell you how sick I got and continue to get when people refer to Nathan’s death as his “passing,” or talk about him being “on the other side” or some such shit. He didn’t “pass.” He died.
I know they do it in an effort to spare either my feelings or their own, but it grates very badly with me. He died. Just say it. It’s okay.
Sometimes we use euphemisms to keep from having to say a word that might be considered impolite. We ask the waitress, quietly, where the restroom is. Not the bathroom or the toilet. We say that our neighbor is between jobs, when he’s actually unemployed.
Then occasionally we use euphemisms when we’re making light of something, often to mock whatever it is. For instance, going back to death, we say that the person kicked the bucket, or croaked.
But very frequently, we use euphemisms to mask what something really is, to make it sound better than it actually is.
Here’s a sample of the main dining room menu on the Norwegian Star (our cruise ship—we were on there so long I feel a kind of ownership of the thing).
As you can see, this wasn’t too bad. It was a formal dining room called Versailles and it lived up to the name.
We loved the place and ate there nearly every meal. The menu was easy to choose from and the descriptions adequate. There was nothing there that left me shaking my head. You can see exactly what you are ordering. If you get the salmon, you know it’s broiled, that it comes with red potatoes and some spinach along with a sauce that has chives in it.
Contrast that to this.
What the actual fuck is all that shit? Reading it carefully, it’s just some bread (why would anyone use the term “brick” to describe bread, for god’s sake), with the middle hollowed out and filled with a mixture of lobster, pickled radish (honestly, I don’t think so) and cabbage, complete with a sauce. The “micro” (meaning baby) greens were “locally harvested.” Yeah. Great.
There is actually good reasoning behind all this pretension.
A study was done involving wine and restaurant food. It’s worth reading about, so I won’t bore you by repeating the details, but the bottom line was that if people perceive their surroundings (and that includes wine) as expensive, they enjoy entire experience more and that includes the food.
The food on board the Norwegian Star was good. Not fabulous and great and all that, but good.
After all, for much of our voyage, we were crossing the Atlantic ocean. This is just a tiny portion of what was stowed away at nearly every stop we made. They brought food on board to feed a couple of thousand people (there were about one thousand staff and an equal number of passengers for our transatlantic portion) and it had to last about two weeks. Frozen is a necessity in those circumstances.
What was superb was the setting, the service, the ambiance. And because we had a wine dude who showed up at dinner every evening with our marked bottles of wine along with a silver ice bucket on a stand for my white wine, and poured the damned stuff for us, well, it tasted better.
But the lobster thing is still pretentious as hell.
And so are these terms:
Unschooling when what your kids really do is whatever they want (except when they’re working for your business).
Composting toilet when what you’re doing is. . . well, you know. How many times do I have to describe it?
Homesteading when what you’re actually doing is nothing at all.
Gardening when you’re just tossing some seed in the ground and hoping something different will happen than what happened last time you tried that.
Tiny home living when you actually are doing is living in a garden shed.
Repurposing when you mean that you’re making do with scraps and leftovers.
Cooking when what you’re actually doing is heating up canned food.
Cabin when what you really had was a jerry-built shanty.
This is not about trying to make Nicole look worse than she is. It’s about being honest about what she is actually doing. Lobster in a hollowed-out bread bowl thing is probably delicious (well, except for the pickle thing). There is no need to describe it in flowery terms that nobody understands.
If what she is doing is so great, why not just call it what it is?
The lunch dish I showed above was tuna salad with fries. Yes, it was served in a very nice place by super people with an ocean view and that made it taste really good. But it was still tuna salad and fries.
And her unschooling is still nothing at all.