Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The guts and the balls

Mark – the second of my objectionable employers – had a repertoire of objectionable catchphrases. An idiosyncratic one was "the guts and the balls". This was used in self-aggrandising tales of encounters with rivals. In these tales Mark would invariably meet his rival at a function or exhibition, confront him with some grievance such as an accusation of plagiarism, and then the rival would lack “the guts and the balls” to admit to his guilt. Sometimes these rivals wouldn’t even have the guts and the balls to talk to Mark at all.

This catchphrase always struck me as important. Mark was verbally castrating and then disembowelling his opponents, while at the same time revealing his own insecurities about his cowardliness which, in personal matters, was notorious. His tales were, however, strangely compelling, and it was only afterwards that you questioned them.

9 comments:

malty said...

Do we, when firing off such utterances, paint a picture in our minds of the verbal onslaught? This would lead to some very embarrassing reflection. After reading AA Gill I will utter the magic phrase "f..k him", now if at the same time I conjure up the attendant graphics......

Ex boss Barnie Rubbleism.."where do we go from here", first heard after building a large chunk of fuselage, that was seven feet wider than the factory doors.

Gaw said...

'I want to pick a bone with you', said in portentous fashion. A hint of conviviality, but a touch of the macabre. And why? What could it be about? Visions of sitting in a cave and sharing a kill whilst talking over some interpersonal issue experienced during the hunt. It's actually a phrase used by my first boss, my mum.

malty said...

Gaw, depends where the emphasis is, " I want to pick a bone with you, teacher. I want to pick a bone with you...parent. When both are combined, head for the hills.

"What have you been doing?"
"Stuff". That one word encapsulates twenty first century life. It's all about stuff.

Peter Burnet said...

Did any of those rivals who lacked the guts to talk to Mark have the balls to pummell him?

David said...

Hmm, today I'm teaching employment discrimination law and I've been looking for a moderately objectionable phrase to use as a teaching aid.

What do y'all think? Does habitual use of the phrase "the guts and the balls" amount to harassment?

Brit said...

I would say so, David.

Peter - I don't think it actually occured to many of Mark's 'rivals' that that's what they were.

Peter Burnet said...

David:

Do be careful, friend. A court might find that such a phrase by an employer is not harassment but a university disciplinary board could conclude its use by an instructor is.

Gadjo Dilo said...

I should learn from this Mark character, as verbally disembowelling then castrating ones rivals - but without it being obvious - sounds a powerful technique. But I fear I simply wouldn't be able to take myself that seriously.

David said...

Peter:

In the event, I told them that "here is where an instructor stupider or braver than me, or both, would say something objectionable to make a point. So, imagine I just said something objectionable."