Thursday, October 01, 2015


With P, it's personal. After all, if I had happened to find myself among the landed aristocracy P would be all over my handkerchiefs, luggage, and pillowcases. So I have to like it by default, or seek further therapy. It's true that the letter itself bears unfortunate intimations of evacuation—#1, pee, #2, poop—even using it by name, e.g., "did you eat asparagus, your P smells funny." Yet the sound it makes (the only sound it makes, and the only letter that makes the sound, and just never mind about those combinations with H or the silent mode, as in "physics" and "psychologists") is a comical charming delight, the hollow burst of a champagne cork. It encapsulates the pop moment with uncanny perfection, for those of us who love pop—P really brings the onomatopoeia here, the insouciant way that pop music, pop art, and the pop whatnot erupt into existence, explosively, hit the vocal for a beat, and slam the door shut again just like that. Is there anything more pop than the word "pop" itself? (At the same time, this could be part of the unfortunate association with droppings.) Speaking of pop and P, however, you should be careful when you use P with a microphone. Strangely, although the P mouth noise seems so natural to me, it is not used at all in the Arabic language—and in light of that, perhaps not surprisingly, it is also not actually used that much in English, ranking at #19 in frequency of usage. A question: How is all this related to the garden vegetable I eat with a knife, done it all my life? The perspicacious truth is out there (we hope). That reminds me that princes and princesses everywhere have a certain obvious fondness for P, except for the one who complained about the garden vegetable under her super plush 20 mattresses and 20 feather-beds. Jesus, lady, get a life. Then there is the matter of minding one's Ps and Qs. What is meant by that curious phrase? Speculation includes that it stands for "pints" and "quarts," thus "please control your drinking." Another possible acronym is "prime quality." Also "please," with the Q serving as some awkward approximation of either "thank you" or "excuse me," which in general makes me think the theory is arrant nonsense—probably they all are. And I am off on fool's errands again. But now I've abandoned my own Ps and Qs by speaking in such a way. Down in the lowercase register, you have to wonder what b, d, p, and perhaps q think about one another in their crazy funhouse mirror gyrations of line and ball. Here's another question, this time about cause and effect: Are the earlier letters in the alphabet inherently more interesting, or are we more interested in them because they come first? Because I have to tell you, in the end, it looks like P just might be something of a drab and uninteresting fellow after all. There's P all over this place. Ew.

1 comment:

  1. And no pussy for you or me. (Oh, please, please, please!) I typically think that old adage ab how rock criticism ought to feel like rock & roll is one of the dumbest in the annals of the game but these laps you're doing through the alphabet really do make me want to sing and dance. Nice job, Einstein.