Andy Rooney Will Seat You Now.
BY JASON ROEDER
We’d like a table for two, by the window if possible.
I don’t much care for windows. It seems everything is made of glass nowadays. Mirrors are made of glass, and so are bottles. You’ll find glass in everything from skyscrapers to goldfish bowls. Vases are often glass as well. Frankly, I’m not a big fan of vases, never used them. I’ve never understood the need for a special container for your flowers when you can just carry them around indefinitely.
I’m not really sure what …
I don’t like prisms, either, and I don’t particularly trust refracted light. And glass has even infected our language. It’s in popular phrases such as “glass ceiling” and “glass jaw” and “glass cutter.” It’s in “eyeglasses,” even though many lenses are actually made of plastic. We drink from a “glass,” but do we serve our food in a “porcelain” or cut it with a “steel”? Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t understand all the fuss about glass. And just because I buy one sweater from you doesn’t mean I want to receive a catalog from your company every other Tuesday for the rest of my natural-born life. If I need your fine merchandise, I know where to find you.
Wait. Sweater? What?
Of course, English has other words I can do without besides “glass.” One of the things that make the English language so wonderful is its suppleness, but sometimes we go too far. Pointless words such as “bling-bling” and “coot” and “rambling” have infiltrated our dictionary, our most cherished reference manual. I remember when “market” was just a noun and when any baby animal was a “piglet.” Oh, sure, English still had a lot of words back then, but it was manageable. Nowadays, I’m just overwhelmed with Christmas cards, and I’ve never really understood the point of it all. If I don’t hear from you the other 364 days of the year, I can do without hearing from you on that day, too.
Can we please be seated? Or could you at least make a point?
Glass is used in microscopes and telescopes, but I’ve always been a little suspicious of microorganisms and faraway objects—what are they hiding from, exactly? I’ve always wondered who names the planets and whether I’d want one named after me. On one hand, Planet Rooney has a nice ring to it—kind of like Saturn—but the human me would suffer in comparison with an awesome celestial body. “Awesome.” There’s another word that doesn’t mean anything anymore. Nowadays, “awesome” is used to describe just about anything that’s even marginally acceptable. That movie was “awesome,” my new car is “awesome,” and so forth. And if something is genuinely awesome, in the dictionary sense of the word, it simply gets upgraded to “totally awesome,” since “awesome” itself is now used to describe a particularly tasty egg roll. And glass is also used in optical fibers.
We’re just going to be leaving now.
You might think I’m being a little rough on poor glass—after all, there aren’t many materials you can shatter just by singing a certain way—but I love my language too much not to speak up. I’ll raise a toast to English anytime, but, if you don’t mind, I’ll drink from a wine cup.
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