The roar of the crowd, plus a $20 tip to civilize France

June 13, 1994|By ROGER SIMON

Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:

John O. Herrmann, attorney at law, Baltimore: For a long time I have been annoyed and agitated at the repetitious use -- or misuse -- of the trendy phrase "could care less" when the person making such a statement meant exactly the opposite of the correct meaning of those words.

On a number of occasions, I have taken the opportunity to attempt to point out the absurdity of this statement by sending the illiterati who pronounce them the enclosed analysis:

"Could care less. . . says exactly the opposite of what its user intends, since if one could care less, one may care greatly. The speaker apparently intends to say that he does not care at all and therefore should say that he "could not care less."

COMMENT: Just one question, John, and let me try to phrase it in correct English: To whom did you bill this hour?

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Robert E. Greenfield, Baltimore: Last summer with some trepidation I traveled in France with a senior bicycling group. I had not been in France since July 1945 as a GI [when I] had not received the most salubrious impression of the French.

However, I took a refresher course in French, screwed up my courage and took off pour la belle France.

I must say save for one bistro owner, the French to a person were pleasant, gracious and obliging.

I made all my requests in French and added many a s'il vous plait and merci.

COMMENT: Not me. I got the French to be pleasant, gracious and obliging by using an older method of international communication: I would roll up a $20 bill and stuff it up their noses.

It works wonders, and you don't have to worry about getting the accent right.

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Norman Shillman, Baltimore: In order that we might have your Simon Says" short blurb columns with greater frequency, I suggest that you solicit suggestions from your readers so we can all get a good chuckle as we start our days.

COMMENT: You mean to say that after reading the kind of letters I get, you think my readers are capable of witticisms?

You think nonprofessionals could come up with devastating lines like, "People who clip their nails in public should be beaten with sticks," or, "Never marry a man who wears a cravat"?

On second thought, I guess they could.

1% But I'm not sharing the paycheck.

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Don Milstead, Baltimore: I am in mourning, still in a state of shock over Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' tragic, untimely death.

I thought [your] column was absolutely despicable, mean-spirited, in poor taste, absolutely dreadful.

You should be ashamed. Deplorable. Buried only the day before yesterday!

COMMENT: How long do you have to wait before telling the truth about a public figure? A week? A month?

And not that it proves anything, but my mail and calls ran about 7-1 against all the saccharine goop that was printed about Jackie.

Observe the following:

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Nancy S. Spritz, Baltimore: I am truly sorry that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died so relatively young because she does truly seem like she was a good, decent person and devoted mother, and I ache for her children, who also seem incredibly decent for two who have grown up in such uncommon circumstances.

But I was excited to see you actually put into writing what I've been thinking all along but what no one else will dare to say, or perhaps even dare to think:

Jackie O. was not a saint, she was not a goddess or an angel. She did not make any major contributions to the world or America or humanity. She was simply an ordinary human being who married someone so famous, important and significant that people have decided that she was extraordinary.

I don't mean to denigrate her memory in any way; it just infuriates me when the people and the media idealize and idolize a person who was only as worthy and as flawed as the rest of us.

COMMENT: And why do the rest of us demand that anyone in the public eye be either a saint or a monster, but never an ordinary -- and far more complex -- human being?

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