Back in the days before anyone had heard of the internet, January 16, 1986 to be exact, the author was browsing through The Devil's Dictionary, that masterpiece of cynical lexicography by Ambrose Bierce and a light bulb flashed in his head: Why doesn't somebody write a Devil's Dictionary for our times?
Few critics noticed it, but the book had plenty of fans. The following is just a sampling of the definitions for our modern world...
AUTHOR: A writer with connections in the publishing industry.
BOSS: A personal dictator appointed to those of us fortunate enough to live in free societies.
CHILDHOOD: The rapidly shrinking interval between infancy and first arrest on a drug or weapons charge.
DENIAL: How an optimist keeps from becoming a pessimist.
EXPERIENCE: In the working world, something you can't get unless you've already got it, in which case you probably don't want any more of it.
FITNESS: Salvation through perspiration.
GOURMET: A food fetishist.
HOOKER: A working woman commonly despised by people who sell themselves for even less.
IDEOLOGUE: Generally an obscure humorless zealot who finds fulfillment by spouting the ideas of famous humorless zealots.
JEANS: Lower half of the international uniform of youth, the upper half being the zits.
KLEPTOMANIAC: A thief with breeding.
LABORATORY ANIMALS: Furry foot-soldiers, drafted in the name of science. Some die nobly in the battle to eradicate cancer; others give their lives so that we might produce a peach-scented dandruff shampoo.
MARTIAL ARTS: A family of Asiatic self-defense disciplines consisting largely of sweeping ornamental gestures of the arms and legs; amusing to look at but disappointingly ineffective when one's opponent is armed with a semi-automatic.
NEIGHBORS: The strangers who live next door.
ORGASM: The punchline some women just don't get, generally because their mates have a tendency to rush through the joke.
PARASITE: A base creature that extracts a living from the lives of others, like a tapeworm or a tram controller.
QUAGMIRE: Any situation more easily entered into than exited from; e.g., a guerrilla war, a bad marriage or a conversation with an insurance salesman.
REDNECK: Popular term for a rustic male, but rarely employed when addressing one in person.
SMILE: To expose a portion of one's skeleton as a gesture of goodwill toward a fellow human.
TRAILER PARKS: Latter-day gypsy camps scattered throughout the vast American hinterland; humble places of abode where hope dies young and tornadoes gravitate like flies to roadkill.
UNWED MOTHER: One who helps perpetuate the genes of an unwed father, without the latter's talent for becoming invisible at will.
VOTING: The right of our citizens to do as they please behind a curtain, as long as they do it alone.
WHITE SUPREMACISTS: The most convincing argument against the theory of white racial superiority.
X-RAY: A diagnostic tool used to detect existing cancerous growths and create new ones for future examinations to reveal.
Y-CHROMOSOME: A line of defective genes designed for men only; the cause of virility, war, baldness, hockey, sex crimes, clever inventions and a disinclination to ask for directions when lost.
ZOO: A pleasant and instructive wildlife park, lately denounced for depriving animals of their right to starve or be eaten alive in their natural habitats.
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