Watered Down

When I was of a somewhat younger age, the "F" word carried some meaning; there was some ominous substance to it. When you heard it, chances are, it was for one of two reasons. The first reason had to do with impact, marking a dramatic turn of events. Someone may have slammed a hand in the car door or, that same hand of someone may have slipped while guiding a 2x through the table saw. The second reason also had to do with impact, though it had nothing to do with dramatizing an event, rather it was probably just some dumb kid showing off, looking for attention.


One summer we road-tripped back to Denver, or at least for dad it was a going back since he was born there. I guess the rest of us just went there for vacation. Anyway I guess us kids were young enough that mom felt compelled to warn us that, while there, we might hear words that we normally did not. Apparently the foul-mouthed German-Russians dad's family members had descended from still retained the hard-edge and hard-language habits of their blue-collar, working-class pedigrees. I can't really recall anything especially revelatory, let alone shocking when they spoke, so maybe civilization had crept into their lives by then. Who knows, maybe they had been warned and were on their best behavior, saving their more colorful language for work the next day.

The point is, in the school age circles I inhabited, you didn't hear it that often.

But then people began to use it all the time. Sure you might turn at hearing it and see some guy with suddenly shorter fingers, but as often as not the incident would be far less dramatic - a hearty "f" yeah in celebration of successfully downing a brussels sprout, seeing one of those big-boobed Carl's Jr. commercials for the first time, walking out of a store with a new iPhone on release day, or other such mundane, commonplace occurrences. 

Over time, use of the word has become so commonplace, that it has lost all impact, its meaning watered down so much, to render it practically useless. These days it is less the word itself that may cause heads to turn, but rather the tone or tenor of the voice making use of it.

It is the way with words, at times, for various reasons, certain words become fadish which leads to overuse and, as likely as not, a fall from grace. "Awesome", "dude" "awesome, dude", "literally", "rad", "cool", and other such are the pop culture equivalents in language.

Where the "F" am I going with all this, anyway? 

War.

Not that I am going to war. In fact the opposite is more the truth. Sometimes words also get mis-applied, mis-used, and in a similar way can become watered down. War. We often read of bike races described in terms of conflict - war, battle, combat, desolation, annihilation, devastation, etc. 'War' has long served as a popular metaphor for sporting writers across the globe. I don't think 'war' is a word we want to become watered down or commonplace. War is war, and though I never found myself anywhere between the front lines and the rear lines of one, I suspect that no other human event compares to it. From here-on out I pledge not to use 'war' to describe any competitive bike race no matter how full of personal battles it may be.

Some words are imbued with deep and heavy meaning, what they describe so humanly horrific that they should not be mutated to overdramatize a simple sporting event.

Two cents.

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