One of my all-time favorite pastimes is saleing. Garage saleing, yard saleing, rummage saleing, you name it. If there’s a large pile of household junk that someone’s selling, then I’ll be there, picking through it. It’s hard to explain; there’s just something sublime about finding stuff that I definitely don’t need and then incessantly haggling over its price.
Like all passionate salers, I dream that one day I’ll find that Joseph Decker original worth a cool million and actually fork over a full $5.00 for it. But until then, I’m perfectly content with the “lesser treasures” that I’ll come across, such as Louis A. Safian’s 1965 masterpiece entitled 2000 Insults for All Occasions.
When I first saw the book wedged in amongst a stack of other musty hardbacks, I was a bit skeptical that it was worth the steep, 50¢ asking price. But when I read the introduction, written by Mr. “Master of the Insult” Safian himself, I was sold.
How often have you felt the need at a given moment for a whimsical wisecrack or a waggish quip to put a spark in your conversation? Why be caught with your gags down? You can’t win in a battle of wits unless you are properly armed with a repertoire of rapid-fire repartee, a capsule caricature, a salty sally, or a snappy comeback.
The unabashed purpose of this compilation is to enable you, at the drop of a gag, to place your comic, laconic stamps on the idiosyncrasies of diverse specimens of the human race. Edged with the sharp barbs of truth, this thesaurus of sizzling flipquickies, mad-libs, bright slayings, and tongue-whippers offers you a well-stocked arsenal for the fullest expression of your critical faculties.
Since the last thing I needed was to get caught with my gags down, it was imperative that I get that book. No matter what the cost, it had to be mine. And fortunately, after haggling down to a cool 35¢, it finally was. The only thing that remained was figuring out how to integrate this comedic compendium in my day-to-day.
“Alphabetically arranged according to the target of your pointed dart,” Safian eloquently described, “it is a ready reference for assassinating asses, burying boors, demolishing stuff shirts, knocking the knockers, putting the kibosh on the kibitzers, prodding the pompous, shrinking the egotists’ heads, and squelching the pest.”
Easy enough: all I’d need to do is pick my target, flip to appropriate page, and lay down the laugh. With forty-nine different categories to choose from, there were plenty to go around. Here are but a few of my options:
Big Heads Chatterboxes Cream Puffs Dumbbells Goat-Getters Idlers Show-oafs Woolgathers Un-altar-able Beaus
As it turned out, Mike over in business development tends to blab incessantly, so I decided to go on the offensive. Flipping to Chatterboxes on page 27, I picked out several insults to conquer him in a battle of wits:
- You should rent your mouth out as a fly-catcher.
- Your tongue is so long, you can seal an envelope after you put it in the mailbox.
- The way you monopolize the party line, if anyone needs a doctor they have to put an ad in the paper.
Ba-zzzing! Guess who was speechless after that. Since the great power of insult comes with great responsibility, I put my handy guide away for when I’d really need it. Fortunately, that time came much sooner than I would have ever anticipated.
Later that day, a certain developer broke the build. And that could only mean one thing: it was time for page 53, Dumbbells!
- They’ve named a town after you, Marblehead, Massachusetts.
- You’re full of brotherly love. You always stop anyone who’s beating a donkey.
- You looked for a get-well card in the German language because your friend had German measles.
- You had a pair of bloomers tattooed on your chest because you always wanted a chest with drawers.
I didn’t enjoy being so cruel, but there have to be consequences for breaking the build.
A couple days later, I was presented with yet another opportunity to whip out the insults. You see, outside my office there are a handful of concrete benches/planters that people sit on, eat their lunch, chat, or whatever. But the skateboarding teenagers prefer more vandalous activities: waxing, grinding, and just ruining otherwise-nice public property.
Generally, an angry “hey, you kids! Get out of here” will send them scurrying. But page 129, Juvenile Delinquents, was all I needed to add a little extra bam in my scolding:
- You’re very careful about your health; you only smoke filter-tipped marijuanas!
- You’d be smarter if you smarted in the right places!
- You are a real sadist; you lock the bathroom on the nights of your grandfather’s beer parties.
You can bet that those punks wouldn’t come back a’skateboarding anytime soon.
All told, 2000 Insults for All Occasions has been a wonderful addition to my library. I’d hate to hoard all of the insult wealth, so I’ll leave you with this collection of zingers that’s sure to “add luster to your reputation as a wit, clever epigramist, and an astute caricaturist.”
- Girls return his letters marked “Fourth Class Male.”
- She’s two-thirds married – she’s willing and so is her mother.
- He as the personality of the back wall of a handball court.
- She went to college for four years – and whom did it get her?
- He asks his wife to help him with the dishes.
- He’s as bald as a billiard ball, but he buys hair restorers that have combs with every bottle.
- He goes into hotel without baggage, and asks to have a check cashed.
- He drinks with impunity – in fact, with anyone who’ll buy.
- He’s so tight, when he winks his kneecaps move.
- He takes his wife window-wishing regularly every week.
- He’s so niggardly, he takes his kids’ glasses off when they’re not looking at anything.
- The only time she says “stop” is when she sends a telegram.
- When a fellow gets fresh, she counts to ten– thousand.
- When the little bell on her typewriter rings, she thinks it means a coffee break.
- He’s such a blue blood, he never uses a fountain pen when he writes. He just cuts his finger.
- She even wallpapers the insides of the medicine chest and the refrigerator.
- He’s as snooty as a clerk in a swank shop ringing up “No Sale” on a $25 purchase.
- Even when they’re finally buried, they’ll try to keep up with the mausoleum crowd.