And so, purely in the interests of science, on my way out to Flintstone Manor last week, I popped in to a favorite barbecue-pit-and-bar, hoisted self up on a stool, and was glad no relatives were present to witness the warm greeting I got from the bartender. She is in fact a woman in her early forties whose children want to be famous, and we often commiserate on the troubles of dealing with people who can't sit still while Grandpa reminisces about watching Sergeant Bilko on black-and-white TV.
She drew me a cold one, and handed it to me with a beer mat (above). Yes, that is a real live beer mat. I enlarged it with the magic of iPhoto so that I wouldn't have to retype the deathless prose, which I think is a good idea because who would believe I had made a letter-for- letter copy? I wouldn't have believed this had I not held the thing in my very hand. Anyway, the text makes no sense whatsoever, but because the writer seemed so earnest, and seemed to be taking an interest in beer - a worthy endeavor - I wondered whether the text might read more sensibly after I'd lowered a few. I took my time, wanting to maintain some coherence when the MEANING OF LIFE, I MEAN OF BEER MATS, occurred to me. Finally, something did: the text in fact made no sense. I felt better because I wasn't missing anything, but worse because it is criminal that in today's economy someone should be paid for perpetrating that prose. Unless, of course, it was written by someone sentenced to perform community service... for a micro-brewery? Probably not. Perhaps it was the alchemical tee, but the first to come to mind was my old friend Farley, who was once forced to swear that he would no longer put pen to paper within 36 hours of testing the products of his personal medicinal herb garden. However, the beer mat read like the interests of the writer were first money and only then beer. This is not the order of Farley's priorities. I needed to look further afield.
A friend (who cooks) once said that the first requirement of a waiter is that he/she be someone who hates food. Similarly, a certain class of writer is to the English language what Muriel Spark defined as a "pisseur de copie." The person that Dame Muriel so pungently described had no idea how the literate reacted to his productions. A dim picture of someone who's proud of awful puns and has little acquaintance with the notion of accuracy began to form.
Recognize her? Yes, she's the Copywriter From Space!
If you follow my adventures in merchandising, you might remember that I'm regularly puzzled by the fact that the Copywriter From Space seems to have permanent employment, even though she has only the briefest "nodding" acquaintance with the structure and vocabulary of the English language. I think I may have discovered the secret to her longevity: she "works cheap," as a former colleague once said of a sadly dyslexic file clerk. So cheaply does she work, it seems, that she needs to supplement her day job by free-lancing. The beer mat is one example; another is the action figure for which she posed (above). I bet every intern at J.Crew will be given one of these, along with left-over 2012 datebooks, at the end of the summer.
"The government will fall that raises the price of beer." I was going to lead off with this Czech saying (many Czech sayings have something to do with beer), to counter the abusive use of the name Kafka, he having lived in Prague where one can find some very good beer and some very good writing. However, I don't want to get an entire country of nice people mad at me for bracketing them with the Copywriter From Space, so that's why the saying is down here. At the end.