Monday, June 14, 2010

Talk Me Down from the Tower

Last month, as vacation was approaching but still seemed far off given the long days and increasing workload, I sometimes found myself in need of someone to talk me down from the tower.

This is a phrase that suddenly came to me this evening.  Not certain how or why, but the more I thought about it, the more I decided that I like it.  And to my amazement, it seems that this an almost unheard-of phrase: Google returns no hits for it while Yahoo shows only three uses and Bing's only result is one of the Yahoo three.

This is an idiom that demands wide usage.

If you're uncertain of its meaning, you should first read this Wikipedia article regarding Charles Joseph Whitman and the University of Texas shootings of 1966.  Simply put, it's an indication that the speaker is feeling frustration or anger and is in nearly desperate need of calming.  It's important to note that the humor inherent in the phrase softens what otherwise could be viewed as a warning or a threat.

And make no mistake: while this expression gets some of its power because of its similarity to the familiar "talk me down off the ledge" saying, it has very much the opposite meaning.  To a large degree, of course, it is exactly that simultaneous resemblance and dissimilarity which makes the phrase work so well.

I will acknowledge that some might fail to see the humor in a phrase which makes reference to an incident that resulted in the death and serious injury of so many people 44 years ago.  After all, there are those who get upset for similar reasons over use of the phrase "drinking the Kool-Aid."  I have two responses to such concerns, both of them vulgar and insulting.  People who make such complaints are part of the reason why I sometimes find myself in need of being talked down from the tower.