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Jewish World Review
Oct. 16, 2006
/ 24 Tishrei 5767
Doing a column
Sometime ago it must have been decided by The Committee to Abolish Trite and Overused Expressions to do away with the phrase "let's do lunch." And in my opinion it was not a moment too soon. As a person who enjoys and looks forward to dining, I must say it is a relief to actually "have" lunch again as opposed to "doing" it.
"Having lunch" conjures up images of sitting with good company at a nice restaurant and relaxing with a cocktail in a big comfortable booth while waiting for my meal. "Doing" lunch always sounded to me as an unpleasant obligation just another task like "doing the dishes" or "doing your taxes." Perhaps that was the intention of the phrase since it originated out of the world of business lunches, which certainly have never been anything more than tedious business meetings with food on the table.
"Doing lunch" is also somewhat reminiscent of that other lovely expression, "doing drugs." One can imagine "doing lunch" by going into a seedy part of town, crouching in an alley, tying a rubber hose to your arm and shooting up a Cobb Salad. "Hey, did ya do lunch, man?" "Oh, yeah I did about four grams of hash. Corned beef hash."
Of course using the word "do" for everything instead of a more specific verb is laziness pure and simple. It is also a way to make an act sound sort of okay that otherwise really isn't so good. For example, "doing drugs" sounds better than "using drugs" or "taking drugs." If you "do" drugs it sounds kind of cool and recreational, if you "use" drugs it sounds like you're hooked.
I try not to overuse the "do" word. It's better to say "I wrote my column" instead of "I did my column." Washing your hair or brushing your hair is more to the point than doing your hair. Doing your hair could mean anything from braiding it to dyeing it to putting it out of its misery. Do is an all purpose verb like thing and stuff are all purpose nouns. Put them together and they are meaningless. "Do your own thing" is about as vague an ambition as you can have. "Let's go out and do stuff" doesn't exactly nail down an itinerary either.
"Just do it" was the slogan behind an advertising campaign several years ago that Nike used to communicate its message of being free to do … whatever it is that young people want to be free to do. Which was yet another message for the children on the importance of being self-centered. I'm not quite sure what that message has to do with selling athletic shoes, but that's why I don't work in advertising, I guess. The whole thing is, it doesn't seem to matter what "it" is that you should do, as long as you do it. Okay.
Sometimes using "do" to keep a thought vague is exactly what's needed. For those readers who are above the age of ninety, you might remember the popular song that went, "Do, do, do what you did, did, did before." No one knew what the songwriter specifically meant with those lyrics, but everybody had their own ideas. However, in the song "Let's do it, Let's Fall in Love" everybody knew exactly what "do" and "it" meant with the lyric, "birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it." Oh yeah, everyone knew what "doing it" was all about and what a naughty little lyric it was. But then Cole Porter ended the phrase by writing, "Let's do it …, let's fall in love" which spelled out what "it" was and suddenly made the lyric respectable again. Brilliant.
"It ain't what ya do it's the way that ya do it." True. One of the golden rules of life.
Anyway, getting back to my original point (see first sentence if you've forgotten and don't feel bad, I had to, too.), now that we don't have to "do" lunch anymore I think it's alright to stop "taking" meetings. I never understood the whole "take a meeting" concept. The "take a number" concept I get. The "take a nap" concept I really like. Personally, I never "took" a meeting myself at least not without asking permission first. It's like the old joke where the guy says "Did you take a bath?" And the other fellow says, "Why? Is there one missing?"
Okay, I'm beginning to ramble now. I hate rambling. Rambling is nature's way of telling a writer it's time to stop, so I will. The important thing is, I did my column for the week. No, I mean I WROTE my column for the week. Time to "take" a nap.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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