Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Greasing the Bobcat: A New Slang Term Joins the American Lexicon

We always are looking for opportunities to interject humor into our tale of legal woe. So we were delighted the other night when The Late Show With David Letterman served up a comic moment for the ages.

It came on what you might have expected to be a relatively somber occasion for Dave--an interview with Sgt. Dakota Meyer, who received the Medal of Honor after saving the lives of 36 men in Afghanistan. The interview certainly had its serious moments. But Meyer brought the house down when he inadvertently coined a slang term that likely will stick around for years.

Let's say this about Americans: We might not manufacture much of anything that's worth a crap anymore, but by golly, we're hell with slang--especially when it applies to a body part or a sex act. Want a euphemism for a penis? Well, we've got "dong," "schlong," "Johnson," and a whole bunch more. Want a special term for breasts? We've got "boobs," "knockers," "hooters," and . . . well, the list surely goes into the hundreds.

And what about masturbation? I don't have much in the way of street cred, but even I have heard of "choking the chicken," "spanking the monkey," "waxing the dolphin," and other classics.

So it's little surprise that Letterman's mind went right to the gutter when Meyer was describing the circumstances under which he took a phone call from the White House, informing him about the Medal of Honor. Meyer now works in construction, and he was busy lubricating a certain brand of utility vehicle, as its known in the trade, when the big call came.

As Meyer is describing the setting, he produces a moment that ranks with Ed Ames' famous tomahawk trick, from 1965, with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. In fact, Meyer leaves Letterman at a momentary loss for words. Let's check it out:

On the subject of comedy, we can't help but think of Scrubs, which I've decided might be the funniest show in the history of television. And as a devoted fan of M*A*S*H, I don't make that statement lightly.

Scrubs lives on in syndication, with late-night reruns on WGN. And I was reminded the other night of the show's many moments that are so superbly written that you marvel at the craftsmanship--while you laugh yourself silly.

This storyline involves nurse Carla Espinosa and a coma patient with an unusual request in his living will. In the event that he falls into a coma, the patient wants "Talk Dirty to Me," by the metal band Poison, played for him once a day.

To appreciate the joke, you have to be familiar with the musical majesty of "Talk Dirty to Me." You can check it out here. It also helps to know the subtle, thoughtful lyrics. You can check them out here.

Always willing to go the extra mile for a patient, Carla cranks up "Talk Dirty to Me" on a boom box in the patient's ICU room. Chief of Medicine Bob Kelso reacts by telling Carla, with a horrified look on his face, that head-banger music is not to be played in the hospital.

What to do? Carla combines with Ted, the hospital's sad-sack lawyer, to solve the problem in a magical way, turning "Talk Dirty to Me" into a virtual show tune. It helps that they both can really sing. The result is a brilliant moment, one filled with wackiness and a heavy dose of humanity. Enjoy:

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