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MARTHA SEZ: Civet, divot, give it, live it, rivet, sieve it ... and all that jazz

November 10, 2016
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

As I type this column, it is the Monday before Election Day. By the time you see this, the presidential election will be over. You, the reader, already know the election results. I, Martha Allen on Nov. 7, 2016, do not.

One good thing is that you are now relatively safe from hearing certain words and phrases that have insidiously become part of our national vocabulary during a long, drawn-out campaign.

Pivot. I am so sick of this word. Please, please stop using it, except maybe as a basketball term, now that the election is over.

Whenever I hear the word pivot, as I have so many times during the 18 months of this campaign, as in, "When will Donald Trump pivot?" I use a rhyming game to distract and soothe myself. Civet, divot, give it, live it, rivet, sieve it.

To pivot is to turn or spin or revolve around one central point. The hands of a clock move continuously all day and all night around their central shaft, or arbor. A hinge swings on its pin, pintle, gudgeon.

When a basketball player pivots, one foot remains in place. There is movement in a pivot, yes, potentially 360 degrees of movement, but its center is fixed. When a thing pivots, it doesn't just go flying off the handle. A wheel remains true to the axle at its core.

Like a turbine, a pinwheel spins on its pin. Windmills, water wheels and other turbines revolve around their centers.

Well, anyway, he never did pivot. Did he? And besides, pivoting wasn't really what Trump's advisers were after. They wanted him to sound more presidential. No, they told him, don't double down. Stop saying that! Read what we posted on the teleprompter.

Maybe after the election is over my old friend Biff will quit going on and on about Trump. Bump, chump, clump, dump, frump, grump, hump, lump, mump, plump, pump, rump, sump, stump, Wuggly Ump.

Hey, Biff, when are you going to pivot?

Pivoting is entirely different from flip-flopping.

Flip-flop is another ubiquitous campaign word, although we heard it more during the 2004 presidential campaign. Poor John Kerry, branded as the flip-flopper. To flip-flop is to flounder, without purpose or direction, helplessly, like a fish out of water.

Back in 2004, in the Dollar Store that used to operate at the Cold Creek Mall in Lake Placid, a man holding a pair of plastic sandals was too embarrassed to say the word flip-flops. No one could say it, not the clerk, not the customer, not I, a bystander. The word choked us. We had heard it too many times.

To double down is a gambling term. To double down in blackjack is to double your bid in exchange for one more card. In politics, a candidate or surrogate doubles down, re-emphasizing a controversial point while others clamor for an apology.

Email has become a word with Machiavellian overtones.

Millennials. Everyone has been talking about the millennial vote, but who are the millennials, anyway?

I conducted a scientific survey by asking young people who came into the store where I work whether they were millennials, and they didn't even know. These people who promoted Bernie Sanders and who, by the time you read this, have influenced the election one way or the other, are clueless as to their own generation designation. But it is not their fault.

The Lost Generation, named by Gertrude Stein, fought in World War I and included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Aldous Huxley and my grandparents.

The Greatest Generation, dubbed by Tom Brokaw in his book, "The Greatest Generation," were the people who came of age during World War II, including Rosie the Riveter and my parents.

Baby Boomers, the Me Generation, or "hippies," are their children, defined by the US Census as those born between 1946-1964.

Gen X, once called "Slackers," were born in 1965, or possibly conceived or born at Woodstock, up to 1982 or 1984.

Millennials came after that. Nobody has bothered to define Millennials much except to comment that their brains are probably wired differently from those of previous generations due to using electronics.

The Martha who is writing this column today does not know the name of the winner of the 2016 presidential election. You do know. That is, unless the election just goes on and on with recounts and appeals, interminably, like the campaign, or the construction on the bridges of Keene Valley.

Please, nobody say pivot.

Have a good week.



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