Humor – Taking the Cake

By February 3rd, 2016

Humor – Taking the Cake – The Jargon and Phrases of American Life and The Endless Uses of One Little Word

Blog No. 63

February 5, 2016

 “Taking the Cake”

The Endless Uses of One Little Word

by Mack W. Borgen

Santa Barbara, California

University of California at Berkeley (Honors, Economics); Harvard Law School;

Author, The Relevance of Reason – Business and Politics (Vol. 1) and – Society and Culture (Vol. 2) 

– As Advertised in The New York Review of Books and Recipient of Four National Book Awards 


American linguists have full-time jobs keeping up

With the jargon and parlance of American life.


Those who survived the “far-out,” “psychedelic,” ”tune in, turn on, drop-out,” decade of the Sixties,

Went on to join the rest of America

In forming new words and molding new phrases.


There have always been variants of “cool,” “slick,” and “boss.”

We have all had our chances to “get down,”

If for no other reason than to find out

“What’s up” or “What’s goin’ down.


Every Southern Californian had to endure

The non-charm of Valley-Girls-speak

When every sentence began with the words “And then .…”

 Every parent had the numbing pleasure of hearing the word “whatever”

Echoing throughout the house during their children’s teenage years.

And it was almost a relief when we found out

That there was “no worry;”

That it was just us being “uptight.”

”You know what I’m sayin’.”


We have all spent our years in our “cribs” — the newer version of “digs” and “crash-pads.”

And every one of them has been all “decked out”

With pictures and posters of our idols and the trappings of our interests.

It’s only later

– After we’ve gotten married and started our families –

That we started retreating to our “man-caves.”


This BFF-LOL-OMG generation obviously has its own codes

– far beyond the cope of this humble article –

But the language-speaking, “grown-up” America isn’t much better.


For example, a couple of questions:

 Exactly how many “perfect storms” can there be in any given year?

How many hours a day do we really need to work on our “bucket lists?”

Do we really have to “optimize” our “value-added” conversations

In order to gain “leverage” on everyone we know?

In every deal we make?

And exactly what is one to do

When he or she doesn’t feel like “giving it a rest”?


Time-Worn Words.

 But some phrases are still special in their own annoying way.

In the opinion of this writer

The following ten phrases  

“Have had a good run”

But they need to be retired.

 More bluntly,

And though “I might be wrong,”

These phrases seem to “at long last”

Deserve a “special place in hell.”


Most of us are aware that we are not anyone’s “dude.”

(And any variant of “dudette” doesn’t make it any better.)


Please quit reminding us what happened “back in the day.”

We were there.


Many of us don’t think it’s all that “cool” that “you’ll have your people will talk to our people.”

Just call us yourself “when you have a minute.”


Any sentences with the words “like” or “actually”

Should trigger mandatory jail time

– nothing serious 1-5 years, minimum security would be fine —


Even when we were young,

We found it hard to “run anything up the flagpole.”

So we’re not going to do it now.


How can anything really become the “New Normal”

Since the “New Normal” changes every week?

“You know,” right after that “Perfect Storm” we were just talking about.

And A Few Cursed Sayings

From the World of American Business and Commerce


It is our experience that there are a lot more “Win-Loses”

Than there are Win-Wins”

— We could be wrong here, but “We’re just sayin’”


We are all busy.

Do any of us really have time to ride another “learning curve?”

But not everything needs to be measured by “getting to the bottom line.”


It may be hard for some to believe,

But many of us “actually” want the good stuff.

And we have no interest in picking the “low-hanging fruit” of our competitors.


Almost as a matter of personal privilege

Can we stop telling one another

what is going to happen “at the end of the day?”

If somebody can’t see to “the end of the day,”

Then they shouldn’t be in business.

And besides,

We’ll all be there soon enough.


But “having said that,”

There is one word that is special.

It is unique

It edges up to amazing.

It deserves our special attention and respect.

 The word is frighteningly short and deceptively complex.

The word has stayed off of our radar for far too long.

Even though we all use it constantly.

Read the next section.

Let me know if you agree.

There is one little word that deserves

 ”Taking the Cake.”

(Author’s Note: The below portion of this article is closely adapted from a writing which was forwarded to me by a long-time friend. Although some variants of the below have been posted online, the original author is unknown.)

There is one word in the English language

That can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb and preposition

The word is


This two-letter word has more meanings than other two-letter word.

It’s easy to understand UP meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list,

But when we awaken in the morning,

Why do we wake UP?


At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?

Why do we speak UP?

Why are officers UP for election?

Why is it UP to our secretary to write UP a report?


We call UP our friends.

Brighten UP a room.

Polish UP the silver.

Warm UP the leftovers.

Clean UP the kitchen.

Lock UP the house.


Fix UP the old car.


Other times, this little word has special meanings.

People stir UP trouble.

Line UP for tickets.

Work UP an appetite.


Think UP excuses.


And certainly,

To be dressed is one thing,

But to be dressed UP is another.


This UP word is confusing.

A drain must be opened UP

Because it is blocked UP.


We open UP a store in the morning,

But we close it UP at night.


We just seem to be pretty mixed UP

about UP!

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP.

When the sun comes out, we say it is clearing UP.

When it rains, the earth soaks it UP.

But when it doesn’t rain, things dry UP.


To be really knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP,

You could look UP the word in the dictionary.

But in a desk-sized dictionary,

The word UP takes UP almost half a page.


But still, if you are UP to it,

You might try to build UP a list

Of the many ways UP is used.

It will take UP a lot of your time,

But don’t give UP.

Don’t get down on yourself — cheer UP!

You may wind UP with a hundred or more.


One could go on and on,

But I’ll wrap it UP.

Besides, for now, my time is UP.

But, one more thing:

What is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?




Did that one crack you UP?

But don’t screw UP.

Forward this article on to everyone you look UP in your address book

It’s UP to you.


Now I’ll shut UP.

Though I confess,

I thought about phoning you (UP).

 Now Get Up.

Or as they say in Montana.


And have a great day.


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