Friday, January 06, 2006


Or, when you’re fit to be tied and can’t stand the sight of something…

Ovid Publius Hadweenzic, Ph.D., the mixed-metaphor mastermind behind a little-known sweat-hog scriptorium that caters to leisure-challenged little leprechauns with fanciful imaginations that delight in tickling the fickle fingers of fate while devouring tubs of barbecue- flavored ice crystals spiked with a shot of tequila or vodka thrown in for good measure.

“Scram” is a handy five-lettered slang expression to use when one is feeling a bit peckish. It’s also a convenient if not curt commentary to blurt out under one's breath, particularly if one is sending any blankety-blank bogeymen packing ‘toute de suite’.

“Scram” is a relatively recent addition to the lexicon of the English language. It first appeared in 1928 as a verb, meaning, “to go away at once”. In the 1953 post-war era however, it assumed a new definition as “a rapid emergency shutdown of a nuclear reactor”.

Before “scram” appeared on the scene, people had to make do with such colorful cussing substitutes as: away with you, beat it, begone, be off, be off with you, buzz off, bugger off, draw your sled, f*** off, gangway, get going, get lost, get out from under my feet, get outta here, get out of my sight, get out of my way, git, go away, go forth, high tail it out of here, leave, march, out with you, p*** off, pull your freight, scat, scoot, shoo, shoo-fly, take a flying leap, take a hike, or simply “vamoose”!

Essentially, “scram” is the equivalent of a short, sharp, sucker-punching pejorative. It is produced by doing three physical actions simultaneously: exhaling a hissing sound when pronouncing “sc”, then curling one’s tongue on the roof of one’s mouth while saying “ra” and finally smacking one’s lips together quickly making an “m” sound, akin to humming. (Note: this interjection should be proclaimed with great gusto, élan, or verve in order that intended recipients are left with no option but to act with great haste and little aplomb, especially if they value the skin they’re in!)

While “scram” is slightly more than 75-years-old, few people seem to use it in everyday speech. But the word has by no means gone the way of the dodo bird. Quite the contrary, more than one million web pages cite this modest multivalent mouthful.

So what is the context in which this lovely little word appears, and what does it say about the user or the recipient pray tell? Well, a perversely long glimpse at some of these web pages reveals that “scram” has something to do with the following:

  • Vital information from the US Environmental Protection Agency regarding air pollution modeling software (…could it be that “scram” has something to do with some "rogue" fetid odors emanating from who knows what or where?)

  • A wild animal repellent that’s guaranteed to protect one’s flowers, gardens, and gnomes from marauding deer and munching rabbits, (…does that mean the untimely end of the Easter Bunny and cancellation of the annual Easter Egg Hunt?)

  • A jestful journal dedicated to rooting out the cashews in the bridge mix of unpopular culture (including neglected, odd, nifty or simply nutty stuff like weird records, tapes, and CDs found in out-of-the-way music stores or honoring the “Bubblegum Queen” in October).

  • The first and only secure, continuous, remote, trans-dermal, alcohol monitor, (hmmm…does that mean that huffing and puffing into a Big Brother Breathalyzer is now bad for our health?)

  • A 1997 Microsoft Word macro virus that deletes files and adds text to documents (…but the real question why don't these misguided munchkins play "Dungeons and Dragons" instead of creating mayhem with my Commodore 64 computer!)
  • Acronym for “Safety Cut Rope Axe-Man”, (…a circuit breaker, for those who haven’t got a clue what the heck the author’s waxing on about in this tear-jerking technical tome about as enlightening as 'How many engineers does it take to change a lightbulb?' Frankly they're far too busy singing "Ohm On the Range" or reciting every last verse of "99 bottles of beer on the wall" to care!)

  • A software configuration, release, management and build tool, (…with all this gobbledygook going for it, perhaps it’ll save someone’s posterior in a pinch!)

  • Acronym for “Schools Conflict Resolution and Mediation”, (…probably works wonders for banishing bugbears from playgrounds, but will it teach kids to say “please”, “thank you”, and “I love brussels sprouts, spinach and tofu”?)

  • "The Navel of Narcissus", ( if you have to ask what's this got to do with the price of tea in China, then clearly you need more information about “scram” and why it’s an important alternative to admiring your rather mediocre, mundane mug in a mirror all day long!)

  • 15 minutes of oxygen generation in the form of a respirator providing head and neck protection against liquid and vapor chemicals and biological contaminants (…however the manufacturer neglects to mention whether it also guards the wearer against attacks from Unidentified Flying Objects or obnoxious aliens from outer space).

  • It seems that Google is experimenting with a “scram” button that will permit someone to block unwanted sites from showing up during an online search. (But when will they design a mute button to silence the snarky, snooty or snotty statements made by nefarious nerdy know-it-alls?)

  • Ankle bracelets (...they probably make a nice accessory for those barefoot bling-bling types who want to wear a pair of sparkly steel-toed booties to their spring prom!)

Just remember the next time you feel the urge to splurge by resorting to the use of the retort “scram”, be sure you smile ever so sweetly, wear prominently-displayed ear plugs or better yet hearing aids, and carry a long white cane.


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