Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It has happened to me... it has happened to you

esprit d'escalier (or esprit de l'escalier)

noun: Thinking of a witty remark too late; hindsight wit or afterwit. Also such a remark.

From French esprit de l'escalier, from esprit (wit) + escalier (stairs).

We're all witty. It's just that many of us think of our clever remarks a bit too late. The French call it the staircase wit, indicating that one thought of that perfect retort on his or her way out.

"I can think of hard, tough, one-line put-downs, but only after the person concerned has left the room. (NB: this affliction, esprit de l'escalier, is one of the principal reasons why people become writers.)"
Simon Barnes; Glitzy Game Gets Line Not Length All Wrong; The Times (London, UK); Jun 13, 2003.
"'You don't have a television?' The question is invariably accompanied by a baffled expression. ... Even as I'm writing this, my esprit d'escalier kicks in, and I start composing witty comebacks for future use: 'Oh, but those things run on electricity, don't they? We don't use electricity.'"  Eya Donald Greenland; There's Luxury in Life Without TV; Toronto Star (Canada); Mar 17, 2003.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY: One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters. -English Proverb

(Via Reddit)


Chip Ahoy said...

I like your thought for the day.

One thought. How modest. I just now had, like, twenty-two of them. But as to the thought of the day, I thought that was because my own dad was so incredibly unpleasantly overbearing. I thought a lot of stupid shit. Before. I thought he was exaggeratedly overbearing to compensate for his lengthy absences. He had to keep barking us back into shape.

While he explained more stuff than any hundred teachers and I mean it.

He thought it his duty.

So then as a mid-teen we moved again. My new friends were punks. Naturally. Their dad taught their two teenage punk boys many unusual things that my dad did not teach us. Like how to make bullets. Then one day he was explaining gears of a car. He kept using his hands flailing around trying to show the gears in the air. He was inept. A bodybuilder unable to verbalize or show the gears. I said, "Draw us a picture."

Should be simple enough.

He goes, "Duh. Gawl. Chuh. Come on, I can't draw."

And I'm all, "WHAT?????!!!1!111!1111??????!!!1111eleventeen questions?????!!!111"

"No. Yeah. No. I can't draw."

And the whole time I assumed everyone's dad can draw. As fundamental part of the communication process.

I was dumbfounded. Nonplussed. Flummoxed. Flabbergasted. Speechless. Disconcerted. Consternated.

My dad could draw an exploded drafting of a gearbox. My dad over-explained. If you asked him something about Franklin Roosevelt he'd start talking about Christopher Columbus. And you'd go, "Oh shit, why'd I ask this guy. I'd be better off just looking it up."

But I felt pity for those two punk brother friends of mine, neighbors, actually, with guns, whose dad can't even draw gears.

We used to go around all over the place basically just looking for trouble.

edutcher said...

Happens to us all.

FWIW, esprit also means "spirit", as in esprit de corps.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I actually did think that Chip posted this so . . . kudos.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Anyway, isn't it kind of weird that there's a part of us that gets off on our own wit?