Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Had to Do it: Live Free or Die

                Every now and again a saying takes a group of friends, a community, or even the country by storm. Examples of sayings like this include rustle my jimmies or that’s what she said. Occasionally it ceases being a conscious choice to communicate the idea that you did indeed watch the same television show or were perhaps present at a party where the drunk guy was able to communicate the same syllable, instead it becomes a subconscious little tick that enters your vernacular, much the same way that “lol” is used at somewhat awkward or inappropriate times during a texting conversation, or essay, or eulogy.
            At the beginning of my college career, out of habit from working in retail I would  add “and stuff” onto almost everything I said. “I’m just getting ready and stuff,” “No I’m too tired and stuff” and many other permutations followed, as it had been ingrained into my vocabulary. This was picked up upon by my very astute friends, and, first mockingly but later out of habit, they picked up “and stuff” and it had become viral. Out of concentrated effort and shame we were able to heal ourselves of “and stuff,” as though we washed our mouths out with the strongest cocktail of hand sanitizer, Emergen-C, and Airborne immune system boosters, and thus our vocabulary reentered the realm of more or less normal, until recently.
            Recently a friend of mine introduced me to his new catch-all phrase. Used ideally, though not necessarily, when answering a question including the word “why.” His phrase works when answering for one’s self, someone else, an entire group of people, no one in particular, and even inanimate objects. The phrase is simply “Had to do it,” in all its ambiguous glory this phrase has the viral potential to sweep the country, nay the world, with a fervor not seen since the Whassup commercials of yore. Conversations are rife with possibilities of this phrase. “Why is the table broken?” “Had to do it" “Is she pregnant?” “Had to do it.” “Is that man wearing a corset?” “I guess he had to do it” “You’re being an ass.” “Had to do it.” This phrase was the perfect storm of nonchalance and attitude. It entered my conversation for casual conversation, my roommate picked it up, in was rampant at work, it was nearing an epidemic in my life. It needed to be stopped.
            The other night at a bar, my friends were enjoying some nice drinks in tiki glasses, with fruit and an umbrella, I was sipping away on an always delicious ginger ale and the rebellion began.  Over a conversation that spread from childhood to drug induced finger painting, the discussion shifted to an event in New Hampshire. The event, though funny, is now irrelevant to us realizing the state New Hampshire is the Live Free or Die state. We realized how subversive this statement is and how it could in fact inoculate us from “had to do it.” Live Free or Die can be an ideal, a justification, an interjection, and a war cry, or all of these at once. Drunk Frat boys and inspirational athletes could scream this with little effort, crying girls could be bolstered and brought back to their perky selves with this, most of all it could be interchanged with “had to do it.”
            I know the revolution before us is tough. Conformity is something to be feared in the modern age. The repetition of phrases is mistaken for humor, tone and context of the phrase could be the difference between the king of catchphrases, or just another failed pipedream.  Whenever I ask myself why this needs to be done I just ask myself what my hero would do. Now I ask you what would Jack Nicholson do? He’d Live Free or Die. ¡Viva  la revolución!


  1. what do you have against guys who wear corsets?

  2. This scholarly article was truly exceptional and a delight to read. Love how you analyzed catch phrases. Look forward to your next posting sir.


  3. I happen to know a guy who looks amazing in a corset. =)

  4. I say words... they don't mean anything.

    Ah, the gems students come up with while drinking from tiki glasses.