Nov 30, 2020

A Handy Glossary to Summarize 2020
(to Date)

Sloppily alphabetized for your reading pleasure

By Ed Goldman

Tomorrow is December 1, meaning 2020 will begin drawing to a close—in much the way a massacre wanes into an armed skirmish or a tsunami gets downgraded to an 8.6 earthquake on the Richter Scale.

Well, as skin divers for Roto-Rooter might say, “We’ve just been through a lot.” So I thought it might be useful, as this year shrivels to an end, to list in somewhat alphabetical order some of the words and phrases we’ve learned.

Defining Terms

CORONAVIRUS—The first of a chain of maladies that apparently originate  in California cities. This one was first detected in and subsequently named for a town in Riverside County. See also SANTAMONICAMALAISE, SACRAMENTALILLNESS and ENCINOEVIL.  

DIGNITY—What everyone wanted Trump to leave office with—and also what those who admire Al Capone’s chief deputy do. (For younger readers: That was Frank Nitty. For even less informed younger readers, Al Capone was a fat loudmouth who had no conscience about the people who died on his watch. Had he not died in prison of syphilis, he could possibly have won the presidency. But only once.)

FAUCI—What a distinguished man of medicine—on the verge of shouting a profanity to describe how he was treated by his boss, before realizing he’s in a classroom of toddlers—switches to yelling at the last possible second. Often hyphenated after the F and adding a sequence of letters from the word “firetruck.”

FOX NEWS—This is what is often called an oxymoron, which is a compound term that appears to contradict itself, such as using the words “intellectual property” to define the legal ownership of a book, speech or press statement by Kanye West.  Fox as a company does not present news. It could re-christen itself Fox Woodshop and be just as accurate,  or Fox Typewriter Repair and be just as timely. By the way, if you ever want to easily spot oxymorons, many can be still found wearing red baseball caps.  

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HERD IMMUNITY—When spoken aloud, this may sound like a particular kind of immunity that’s rumored and/or delivered to one’s ears. In practice, even when one deletes the implied joke of misusing “heard,” it’s just as logical.

JARED—The past tense of “jare.” —If that didn’t deliver enough laughs for your hard-earned dollar, allow me to pilfer (but credit) a 2012 definition from the Urban Dictionary: “A name given to someone who is played…A person who can be easily taken advantage of. Someone who will place trust and belief in someone and not think twice about it regardless of reputation. A person who can be lied to and manipulated repeatedly. An extremely gullible human being. Kris: ‘So you told him you stayed home last night and he believed you?’  Frannie: ‘Hook, line and sinker!’  Kris: ‘And he has no idea you were bouncing on another guy last night? Frannie: ‘Nope. He is such a Jare.’”   

DON LEMON—The first citrus of sunrise and/or what you do if someone demands you turn your defective car into casual attire.  

RUSH LIMBAUGH—A daring lumberjack move in which you surprise a tree branch and then call it cute. Also a fictitious Medal of Freedom honoree.

MALARKEY—What President-Elect Joe Biden told us during his campaign he would have none of, doggone it. Malarkey is also the device you use to open your Malar.

OUTGOING FIRST LADY MELANIA TRUMP—First of all, she was never outgoing and as her husband demonstrated during their marriage, she wasn’t exactly first. And as she herself showed when she professed zero compassion for the Mexican children her husband locked in cages, Melania is also no lady. So the term defines a nonexistent entity, much as “Mike Pence” does.

MIKE PENCE—Closely resembling the KGB killer played by Robert Shaw in “From Russia With Love,” this is also an entity often described as an “empty suit,” especially when he climbs out of a chauffeured car and the driver remains unaware he just took anyone anywhere. This is also how my Russian Jewish grandmother would describe a pair of slacks in which you carry your microphone. (If you’re a former baseball player who enjoys the great outdoors, my grandmother would have urged you to go to REI’s website and buy a pair of Hunter Pence.)  

SCARAMUCCI—To frighten someone who aids and abets moochers. Also the surname of a Republican turncoat who had the shortest tenure on record as a White House director of communications,  only to be miraculously resurrected as an articulate, frequently inaccurate political pundit by CNN, HBO and CBS, all of which should have known better—though, admittedly, CNN also likes propping up a smirking ventriloquist’s dummy on its “news” panels and calling it a Santorum.

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SELF-QUARANTINE—When I was a kid, I thought that Ovaltine and quarantine sprang from the same root word, which I imagine I thought was “een.” Also latrine, tureen and later, poteen (booze made from potatoes but rarely with the finesse of vodka). Oh, and protein. Therefore, when we went to family-style restaurants, I always asked my dad if I could ladle out the soup from the latrine. I have no real reason to share this with you other than to indicate why it may not have been a bad idea for me to be locked up since March. Or at least to not be allowed to dine in any family-style restaurants, even if they had outdoor seating.

STOP THE COUNT!—The Romanian battle-cry of those hoping to prevent Dracula from sailing to England and making Lucy Westenraone one of the living dead, many of whom would later re-emerge in America suffering from hat hair.

VOTE COUNT—This is the exercise we go through that permits TV newspeople to use brightly colored maps, urgent outdoor voices and rousing quasi-military music to greatly dramatize what is essentially predicting the past. Truly. What they gas about for days and nights is something that has already happened: for example, after most American voters had cast their ballots, the results were sitting in boxes, envelopes and computers. ”Counting” was the activity creating all of the suspense. Neither presidential candidate was surpassing or falling behind his rival. Again, that had already happened: one already had more votes than the other. To me, it was almost like attending most Sacramento Kings basketball games: the outcome was clear before everyone bothered to perspire for two-to-three hours.

WOKE—What you allegedly are once you develop a social conscience and turn your back on the English language concept of past subjunctive tense.


Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).