Whence Smack Talk?

Smack talk. It’s not just for athletes any more. Muhammad Ali was famous for taunting his opponents – and backing it up. He wasn’t sellin’ no wolf tickets, Yo! It is a most fascinating aspect of human interaction – a cross between fencing and “Peek-a-boo!”

I consider the term smack talk to be a quantum portmanteau. It transcends boring etymology by simultaneously standing in for trash talk and talking shit. The beauty of this synonymous dance can be witnessed in the spectacle of escalation / de-escalation.

If you’ve ever watched two slightly inebriated bar patrons (usually knuckle-scrapers) square off over some seemingly trivial matter, you may recall that things got heated. Just when it appeared that knuckles would levitate from the floor and begin collecting teeth, one of the “woofers” backed down. In a lame attempt to save face, the newly crowned punk would say something like, “Aww, man, you ain’t worth the trouble.”

I’m in trouble, though. You see, I have never been good at facing down a woman. Probably goes back to third grade, when Emma Lou taunted me:

“I hate to be mean, but you need Listerine. Not a sip, not a swallow, but the whole damn bottle!”

I’ve already seen Holly at work. Acerbic wit is a mild way of describing the dripping acid from her virtual quill pen. Sarcasm cowers before her pointed glare. She abuses her muse, for Pete’s sake!

Smack talk is a delicate art. When it escalates from objective to subjective – going from talking about a person’s skills to talking about his momma – the smack talker has to make sure that the taunting is within context. How in the world is talking about another person’s mother ever contextually relevant? If you have to ask, you probably shouldn’t consider doing it. But, it’s true. Playing the Dozens was a big part of my childhood and early adult years.

The one place where I feel that I can safely talk smack is in my stories. My characters know better than to escalate things with me. I wield a deadly delete button. Why, if Emma Lou had been in one of my stories, I would have yelled, “Yo’ momma!” Then I’d have erased her. Permanently.

Hopefully, that won’t be needed here.

One Response to “Whence Smack Talk?”

  1. Mitchell Allen

    This comment is purely intended to highlight or lowlight the use of left and right single quotes. By looking at this comment in different fonts, we can determine how nice or ugly each is.

    “Who’s on first?”

    “I have no idea. You wanted to come to the baseball game, not me.”

    “Is that so? I seem to recall your muttering, ‘I would rather watch baseball than have root canal.'”

    “No. What I said was, ‘I’d rather be hit with a baseball than have root canal.’ See the difference?”

    “Sure I do. But you said…”

    “I know what I said! LOOK OUT!”

    Mitchell Allen would be over the moon if you read Home of the One Million Product ChallengeMy Profile

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