There are few things in life as consistently good as butter. In fact, if you’re the praying kind, you might take a moment right now to thank the Lord for this blessing.
We say something is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but sliced bread isn’t much without butter. Mashed potatoes and rice go from good to great with a dollop of butter on top. Ambrosia may be the food of the gods, but even they slather butter on a hot tortilla when they’ve run out of oranges and coconut. Hot water cornbread, right out of the skillet and spread with butter, makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
Everyone knows that landing in a tub of butter is a good thing while landing butter side down is not. And buttering someone up is understood to be a better way to get what one wants than extortion or bribery—usually.
The only time butter presents a problem is when it’s too cold to spread. Spreading easily is a good thing—unless we’re not talking about butter.
According to my old friend Miss Merriam Webster, superspreader is a noun—think Typhoid Mary. But Miss Webster isn’t up-to-date with the use of the word as an adjective—think superspreader event. Perhaps she is trying to define what makes a run-of-the-mill spreader move to the “super” category.
From what I can tell, being “super” has nothing to do with the quality of refreshments offered or dress required. Plain spreaders may have the edge there. It probably has something to do with the number in attendance and how many come away infected. Of course, if Donald Trump is hosting, it’s bound to be a superspreader. With his “go big or go home” maxim, the bar is set too high for most, who will just have to settle for giving a plain old spreader event.
Parsing words is a favorite pastime of lawyers, English majors, and language lovers. At this week’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Judge Amy Coney Barrett demonstrated her mastery of this game. In fact, her word choices were so adept that I began to wonder if she actually might be allergic to declarative statements.
With such cleverness on display, it was quite jarring to hear her use the term “sexual preference.” Was that the one expression not chosen wisely? She did apologize, sort of, but I suspect she’s not the only one who is not particularly clear on the difference between “preference” and “orientation” in this context.
Since the aforementioned Miss Webster officially confirmed the offensive nature of the term this week as a result of Judge Barrett using it, I’ll try my hand at giving a cheat sheet for those who may need it.
Whether one likes to glide, slide, or ride behind closed doors is a preference. Lights on, lights off. Preference. Making love, having sex. Preference. Choosing to do it with Gershwin, Barry White, or Jerry Jeff Walker providing musical accompaniment. Preference. Whatever one does to melt one’s own butter and that of one’s partner is preference. If, rather than butter, one is actually melting margarine or Cheese Whiz, that’s orientation.
Now that it’s less than three weeks to Election Day and the polls continue to favor Biden, some Democrats are beginning to feel confident. Others, we aren’t Jewish or particularly superstitious are spitting between their fingers anytime such confidence is expressed. It’s going to take a lot of butter to get this later group back into the frying pan. Even should Biden win handily, the once-burned folks are likely to counter with “He hasn’t been inaugurated yet.” And who can blame them?
Democratic voters provide their best turnout when they are fearful and angry, so why mess with an effective formula? (I’m looking at you, James Carville.) I can’t really say when Republican voters are at their best nationally, as they’ve only won the popular vote once in the last thirty-odd years. Even saying that out loud might cause some folks to start spitting. And for more than one reason.
Years ago, Anita Bryant asserted that “a day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine.” That was one of many things she was wrong about. When children draw a picture of the sky, the sun isn’t colored orange. It’s yellow. Like buttah.