Nouns Into Verbs
|This piece was written in November, 2000, but it still holds true today.
This must be the fifth 'take' on this particular rant. Before computers, my floor would have been covered with crumpled pieces of paper yanked from my typewriter. Now these efforts never see light of day, gone with the
delete key. "Though much is taken, much abides."
So Tennyson parachutes in. The sub-head in a Wall Street Journal piece tells us that "David Boies parachutes in", which makes me wonder: who is eligible to perform such feats? Hemingway certainly would have wanted to enter battle that way, and it is surprising the phrase did not originate with him.
Ah, but 'parachuting in' is just so turn of century. Back when men actually did enter battle by parachute, they simply jumped, using their parachute. Clever writers hadn't managed to turn a noun into a verb yet. They had not prioritized their priorities.
It was probably the cigarettes hanging from their lips, and the glasses of scotch next to their Underwoods that kept wordsmiths from making nouns into verbs. On a word processor, 'parachuting in' is an effortless type, but when pounding the old manual portable, 'jump' takes less sweat and has less chance of needing correction.
In real life, Boies probably has never jumped from a plane. Yet it is not impossible that Boies would land successfully. At Dien Bien Phu in 1954, French military theorists had the chance to hypothesize their hypothesis that men could parachute into battle without practice, and found it worked, though Bernard Fall, writing in the early 60's, did not have them 'parachute in'.
That some of these same French paratroopers evacuated Algiers eight years
later piafing "Non, je ne regrette rien" is not important, except that perhaps they had cigarettes dangling from their lips. Were they parachuting out? The French soldiers of my mind always cigarettize every situation they can, and wear their chic Black berets under their helmets.
"Silly man", you say. "That is impossible. Soldiers of that era wore a
solid helmet liner under their steel pot, as the outer covering was called. The inner helmet was lined with mesh straps."
"You're right!, I remember now. Basic Training, Ft. Jackson, SC 1966, waking up to sing 'Nothing could be finer than to fall out in our liner in the mo-or-or-ning', with choreography by Bob MacNamara. We would dread when the order of the day was liners with steel pots. It was like putting my round dining room table on my head. By the way, how did you know about the liner? Did you accessorize yourself the same way? No, don't respond."
Is the two hat Army still true? Or have we helmeted our men in something better? I don't think I want to ‘Be All I Can Be’ to find out. You know, "Though we are not that strength which in old days....", we can still verbiate any noun. Better to retreat to a quiet place to speculate and write.
The idea of sitting in a room above a garage, my Micron traded for a Remington portable with real paper in it, my life scotchified and virginia slimmed, is alluring. Maybe it's time to parachute in. On second thought, there is something too 'Joe Gillis' about it. I would hate to end floating face down in the swimming pool.