Editorial: New catchphrase from Drunken Fool School

W e have it! We have it already! The new catchphrase for 2014. And it's not even 2014 yet.

W  e have it! We have it already! The new catchphrase for 2014. And it’s not even 2014 yet.

Every now and again, someone opens his or her mouth and says something which brings the earth, spinning on its axis, to a halt. T-shirts are printed, Facebook memes proliferate.

In January of 2012, the Italian language gave us perhaps the last great international catchphrase —  “Vada a bordo, C—-!” (“Get on board, you —-!”). This is from a radio exchange between Italian coast guard captain Gregorio De Falco and Francesco Shettino, the captain of Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia which ran aground off the coast of Isola del Giglio in January 2012. Shettino had quickly escaped the listing vessel, and was drifting about in a lifeboat while passengers were still trapped aboard. And De Falco ordered him back to his duties.

These four words perfectly encapsulate the metaphor, whereby one individual’s character flaw became a symbol for what is pathetic and ludicrous in our lives, the tragi-comedy of our expectations that we are in fact, noble and courageous.

“Vada a bordo, C—-” is what you can say to anyone who is underperforming to the point of putting other people in jeopardy.

And now, another gift to the lexicon, this time from Canadian English — a phrase that perfectly encapsulates what is drunken and slovenly: “… in one of my drunken stupors,” courtesy of the mayor of one of the greatest cities in North America.

Yes, on Tuesday, Mayor Rob Ford admitted he smoked crack cocaine, but wasn’t really sure when, because he was probably really, really drunk at the time.

Oh, I see. No problem then.

Some see Ford’s blurted, seemingly spontaneous admission of his drug and alcohol habits, followed by a conference in which he announced he wasn’t stepping down as mayor, as a blatant political play for sympathy. Others could take it as face value — admitting you have a problem is the first step, innit?

In any case, while Ford was in all likelihood trying to just clear the air, get stuff off his chest, and ease the impact of the eventual release of that alleged video of him smoking crack, the ages-old “excuse of drunkenness” has reached a new level of hilarity. Though you admit such stuff with abject remorse, the undercurrent of your admission is, “I didn’t know what I was doing. I was too messed up.”

For instance, if you told your colleague to “Vada a bordo, C—-!” and were taken before the human rights tribunal, you can now say, “I only said, ‘Vada a bordo, C—-‘ to him (or her) because I was in one of my drunken stupors.”

Oh, I see. No problem then.

Mayor Ford has set a precedent. After all, what goes on in Toronto dictates the behaviour of the rest of the country.

“… in one of my drunken stupors” strips us of our dignity, that particular quality which we all greatly desire, but which doesn’t exist. Say that phrase to yourself as you look in the mirror and watch those six-pack abs, those bulging biceps, that noble chin, and those flowing locks you always picture yourself with, watch them magically disappear, melting into pauchy, flabby baldness.

Rob Ford has taken us to drunken fool school. Really, if the mayor of Canada’s biggest, most sophisticated city can casually admit to “…one of my drunken stupors,” then where does that leave the rest of us slobs? In one of our own drunken stupors, obviously.

But it’s not so bad. In a way, it’s a relief. Mayor Ford, by selflessly sacrificing his dignity, has taken the pressure off us all. Just watch his approval rating go up.

Barry Coulter, editor of the Daily Townsman, wrote this piece while stone cold sober.

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