Give It Up for Confusion

By Walter Brasch

There’s a lot of language today that confuses me. For example, does anyone know why certain people try to get someone’s attention by shouting out, “Yo!” And if that doesn’t work, they become redundant and shout out “Yo Yo!” That could be very confusing if you work for Duncan Toys or are a classic cellist.

In today’s language, everyone is a brother or, if they need to save their voice, “Bro,” as in, “yo, Bro!” When not being siblings, they’re “Dudes,” as in “Hey, Dude,” not to be confused with “Hey, Jude,” a greeting reserved for circumcised Jews.

I also don’t know, like y’know, what I should, well, like y’know know. From pre-pubescent teens and Hollywood celebrities to, like, other people, it seems that every other word is like, well, y’know. What is it I’m supposed to know, and why should I like it? Y’know wha’ I’m saying?

Does anyone know what the “total package” means? How should I wrap up a total package? Is it cheaper to send it to a business than a residence? And if it’s a supersize package, is it like, y’know, totally awesome?

Hollywood, whether represented by TV reality series or a variety show at the local Elks, also confuses me. Emcees are enamored with constantly telling us to “Give it up for _____” I have no idea what “it” is. What am I supposed to be giving up? And why should I give it up? Is giving up an “It” deductible as charity expense? Why is it beneficial for the talent to get my “It”? Before someone gets my “It,” do they need to first get approval from an insurance clerk in a windowless office half a continent away? Will they, or me, get fully reimbursed for the “It”? Or does “It” carry a large deductible? If I don’t have an “it,” can I buy it somewhere so I can give it up? Should I make sure that I buy only union-made “Its”? Does Wal-Mart sell cheaper non-union “Its” made in China? Do the more upscale stores buy their “Its” from India? During the 1920s, movie star sex goddess Clara Bow was known as the “It Girl.” Do my hosts want me to give up sex? Or do they want me to indulge in sex with whomever they’re introducing, whether singer, dancer, or malleable gymnast?

When not telling us to give it up, emcees ask us to “put your hands together for ____.” But, they never tell us how long we should put our hands together? A couple of seconds? A minute? Until the performance is over? And, just how am I supposed to put my hands together? Should I clasp my hands, with fingers interlocked over my head? Behind my neck? On my stomach? If I’m only going to be half-enamored by an act, could I just grasp my left forearm with my right hand, and avoid putting both hands together? If I want the act to succeed, should I put my hands together as if praying? More important, if both my hands are together, how can I give “It” up at the same time?

President Bush confuses me. For instance, he tells us “When the Iraqis stand up, we’ll stand down.” That’s just not right. If someone is standing, shouldn’t we also be standing? That just seems like common courtesy. And if everyone else is sitting, can’t we sit, especially if we’ve been standing so long that we’re getting not just knee and back pains but a pain in our ass? Maybe the President wants us to act like car cylinders that fire in alternating order, and he can play Whack-a-Mole.

President Bush has also told us innumerable times we must “stay the course.” Just what course is it we’re staying. Is it a course in futility and self-destruction? Is it one in propaganda or a how-to course on the subject of rewarding friends with no-bid million dollar contracts? Maybe it’s a course in how much stress we can subject teenagers to before they become body parts. He’s never explained that clearly. Also, I’m confused by who’s teaching this course. Is it the Mongol invaders? Machiavelli, Stalin, or Cheney? I doubt it’s being taught by Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr.

When President Bush enters a room, a disembodied voice tells us, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States.” Everyone sitting then stands up; those who are already standing can continue standing, stand down, or levitate. Perhaps that voice should introduce Mr. Bush with what’s more acceptable—“Yo, Dudes and Dudettes, like y’know, put your hands together and give it up for the total package, my Main Man, the Prez!” We could then stand up and give it up, as we have done for six years. Ya know wha’ I’m saying?

[Walter Brasch’s current books are ‘Unacceptable’: The Federal Government’s Response to Hurricane Katrina, Sex and the Single Beer Can: Probing the Media and American Culture, and America’s Unpatriotic Acts. The books are available at, and most major online stores. You may contact Brasch, an award-winning journalist and university professor, through his website,]

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About Walter Brasch

Columnist, author, journalism professor. Latest book is BEFORE THE FIRST SNOW: STORIES FROM THE REVOLUTION, a look at the couterculture from 1964, as seen through the eyes of a "flower child" who is now middle-aged--and of the reporter who covered her story. The book is available through . . . Check out website, for further info. Or, just write me:
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2 Responses to Give It Up for Confusion

  1. Ginny Cotts says:

    Let’s all put our hands, like, together, and give it up for THE MAN, Walter B.

    Especially those of us who would like to go back in time to gag & duct tape every Valley Girl that contributed to, like, dumbing down American English.

    I DO like your Prez intro for Georgie. Fits perfectly 😆

  2. Darrell Prows says:

    This seems to be one of those very rare instance where the phrase “Who’s your daddy” doesn’t seem to be totally inappropriate.