Thursday, 15 November 2007

wilful stupidity, bated breath

Today is the day. Will the very cheap but no doubt legitimately proffered computers I ordered from Craigslist arrive? if so, will they be in good shape? (I had a talk with my brother the lawyer, who informed me about something called wilful ignorance. According to this doctrine, if I am pretty darn sure the ordered computers are -- say -- hot, I am part of the criminal transaction. Since the internet is open to the public -- I mean, I am writing this to amuse and instruct my dozens and dozens of fans -- I want to get my innocence on record. ) I know, then, that the deal is legitimate because I asked my man Bill why he was selling the computers so cheaply. I don't need 'em, he replied.
Sounds legit to me. I mean, if you don't need something you might as well sell it at a ridiculously low price, right? Right? Still, I can't help feeling a thrill of slightly illicit excitement. Reminds me of how it felt to order something from the back pages of a comic book. Remember those X-ray glasses? See right thru your friends the ads said, with a provocative picture of a girl undressing. A cheap con with mild sleaziness fit my mind perfectly back then, and it seems I haven't changed that much. I think I waited beside the mail box with bated breath for two weeks.
Speaking of bated breath, the term is something of a cliche. It comes (I checked) from the word abate, which makes sense -- the breath is withheld while you are waiting for the exciting event to unfold. But did you know that bated breath can also mean moderated breathing -- that is, lung power turned down slightly. You could bate your breath to avoid wheezing, say. A different picture, no? I read plenty of trashy novels, so I expect to come across the term again. When I do, I shall have to wonder if the author means that the protagonist is in a state of breathtaking (literally) tension, or controlled calm. Perhaps context will help.
Sorry for getting sidetracked. I have to get back to the zombies for a couple of hours, and then I have another interview to give. (Promotion for the Ravine book.) London calling, this time. Yesterday it was Oshawa, where I had an illuminating talk with my host Kasia. She'd done her research on me, and the first question she asked was: Can you really get Guitar Hero on Craiglist for eleven dollars?


Marilyn said...

Do zombies have bated breath?
What is their breath like anyway?

Richard Scrimger said...

Zonbie breath is smelly and noisy. It should be bated, all right. RS

Anonymous said...

Lol.I don't get how zombies come alive xD