Home > Musings > The slutty, bisexual friend of letters

The slutty, bisexual friend of letters

If you’ve ever had to participate in a field sobriety test, you gain a new appreciation for the alphabet and the importance of each letter. Our alphabet is no longer a weird sing-along song you learn in school with an obscure “elemeno” part. Personally, I’ve always thought it was the “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” of kindergarten songs.  During a field sobriety test, you focus on each letter of the alphabet and take the time to consider each one; well, that and try not to fall down.

If you look past the theme song and the elemeno and really analyze our alphabet, you’ll come to the conclusion that the person who invented it was on drugs. First, let’s consider the names: W. Double U? Look at the two letters for a second. Does W actually look the same as two U’s (my apologies to Joe Pesci)? Maybe I could forgive the letter getting that stupid name if it didn’t come right after the letter that it actually does look like two of:

“Okay, so we’ve got U and then V and then we have thing one thing (W). What should we call that? Hmm… Kind of looks like two U’s…”

Double what now?

Maybe I’m not giving them enough credit and they simply knew that the Double V would one day be a sexual position. When you learn the alphabet, you’re told that there are two types of letters – vowels and consonants – except that Y can be either one. Excuse me? Every other letter had to pick a side. Why did Y get to play Switzerland?

“What’s up, Y?”

“Hey, K. How’s it going?”

“Good. So, are you coming with us?”

“Actually, I’m going to go hang with A and E for a while.”

“But…those are vowels. I thought you were one of us.”

“Sometimes.”

The Y is like the El Camino of letters. It can’t make up its mind about what it wants to be. Or maybe it’s like the slutty bisexual friend of letters. It’s perfectly happy playing both sides. I guess that shouldn’t really be a big deal, except when that rule was invented, people didn’t think about how it would affect Wheel of Fortune:

“I’d like a Y.”

“Buying a Y.”

“No, I want it as a consonant. I want a free Y.”

“Well, you have to pay for it.”

“But it’s only sometimes a vowel. Are you saying it’s a vowel in this phrase?”

“I can’t tell you that.”

This scandal brought to you by the letter Y

People take for granted that we have these 26 unrelated letters and by combining them you can create words that make sense and invoke meaning. Sometimes. And by spelling things wrong, you indicate something about your personality, such as “I’m an idiot” or “I’m a rapper.” Those are not mutually exclusive, by the way. By spelling words correctly, you indicate things such as “I’m intelligent” or “I know how to use Microsoft Word’s spell-check.”

But if there’s one thing that takes for granted our understanding of words and letters, it’s the acronyms used for texting and instant messaging. They started off simple enough. Someone would type “lol” to indicate “I am a liar”:

“When you have a fat friend, there are no seesaws. Only catapults.”*

“LOL.”

“You liar. If you laughed out loud I would’ve heard you. You don’t need to humor me, you know.”

“Sorry. I laughed on the inside.”

“That’s not the same, now, is it?”

“Why are we texting when we’re in the same room?”

Soon enough, the text and IM acronyms grew to a point where some people use them more than actual words, as if they’re training for a transcriptionist job or using a secret language to communicate with U-Boats. Whenever someone gets too crazy with their acronyms, I usually send them a message that says DIHNIWTFYATACYMTWAWFACTWBHT.

What, you don’t know what that means? I thought it was obvious. It stands for “Dude, I have no idea what the f*ck you are talking about. Could you maybe try writing actual words for a change? That would be helpful. Thanks.”

People really do go overboard with their acronyms when chatting on IM. In fact, once I was chatting with a stranger and was really confused, having no clue what she was saying. It took me almost an hour to figure out that she was typing in a different language.

Acronyms aren’t just for texting and chatting, though. They’re used in everyday life and even a small change makes a big difference. For instance, being a member of AAA is infinitely cooler than being a member of AA, especially if you need a ride home late at night.

But our letters do more than form words, determine whether we are drunk, and form acronyms to confuse the hell out of me. When a single letter is sewn onto your clothes, it signifies a personality trait or a ranking. If you’re on a team and have a C on your jersey, it means you’re a captain. If you’re in high school and have a letter jacket, it means you’re a jock. After you graduate, if you wear a letter jacket, it signifies “I’m a tool.” If you live in 17th-century Massachusetts and are forced to wear a red A on your dress, it means you have no friends in the daytime but probably meet a lot of men after dark. You see, that’s because a scarlet A is a lot like that slutty Y.

*Seesaw joke quoted from Demetri Martin

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  1. September 12, 2012 at 12:52 am

    I KNEW it, I KNEW it. I always THOUGHT the letter Y was Bi. You just confirmed it. LOL!!! Oh wait…I didn’t ACTUALLY laugh out loud, I just sor of tittered. What is the acronym for that???

    Great Post per usual J.

    • September 12, 2012 at 10:58 am

      Thanks. I use LOTI for “laughing on the inside.”

  2. September 12, 2012 at 8:21 am

    So true. Poor confused Y.

    The acronyms thing drives me absolutely bonkers. People are just so damn lazy, and soon enough, no one will remember how to use actual words. I like your DIHNIWTFYATACYMTWAWFACTWBHT. 😉

    • September 12, 2012 at 11:00 am

      Yeah, it’s crazy. I had a coworker who only responded to emails and IMs with acronyms and other shorthand. You then had to do detective work, asking around if anyone knew what it meant or trying to figure it out on your own (because asking him ruins the game).

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