Marco Polo: Things that are confusing
Here are some things that confuse me:
I don’t understand the game Marco Polo. It’s played in a pool or a lake or a pond and one person shouts “Marco” to which another answers “Polo” but as far as I can see, that’s all that happens. Apparently its a game only kids play, probably because no adult understands it, which doesn’t make a lot of sense unless kids don’t understand it, either, because the kids playing it become adults and you would think that they might want to continue playing Marco Polo with other adults who played it as kids.
I thought about this recently when, our of the blue, my cousin Katie reacted to something she was doing, or something I was doing, and said, “Marco.”
When I didn’t respond, she said, “You’re supposed to say Polo.”
I said, “Why?”
She said, “That’s how you play the game.”
I said, “We’re playing a game?”
She said, “No, but if we were playing Marco Polo, you’d have to say Polo after I said Marco.”
I said, “Why?”
She left the room.
When I’ve watched kids play this game at Goss Park in Wilton, no one ever seemed to win. They just kept saying “Marco” and “Polo” with no apparent end, until they came out of the water. Once I thought about asking someone who won but I was afraid:
A. The kids would think me a moron for not knowing.
B. A parent would call the cops, thinking some weird cat was talking to their kids.
Then the other day I was rewatching an episode of “The Sopranos” and they were in Tony’s pool and, yep, playing Marco Polo. I still didn’t get it and nobody seemed to win except Tony suddenly became “It” when he got out of the pool but said he was taking a “TO” ( I guess that’s time out) and, being The Boss of the New Jersey family, he got to do whatever.
But I still I have no idea what this game is about and I’m not sure I actually want to know because it’s better not to know some things.
Then there’s this:
Why do people say, “Full disclosure …” before telling you something that, they fear, you might consider a conflict of interest?
Radio announcers say it, TV reporters say it, and newspaper and magazine reporters write it, as in:
“Tonight I am doing a story on Pete Rose. Full disclosure — Pete Rose and I are friends.”
Why not just say, “Tonight I am doing a story on Pete Rose, who is my friend”?
Does the speaker or writer think we won’t understand unless he, or she, shouts, “Full disclosure!”
And why hasn’t someone picked that up for the name of a seedy TV program?
FULL DISCLOSURE starring Martin Schkreli. Tonight, Martin explains why he can make you pay more for something you desperately need to save your life without feeling the slightest bit of guilt. FULL DISCLOSURE: He doesn’t care about you.
And why “FULL disclosure?” To make sure we understand that the writer, or speaker, isn’t just partially disclosing something? What’s “partial disclosure,” anyway?
“Tonight, I’m doing a story on Pete Rose. Partial disclosure: It’s possible I know more about him than I’m going to tell you and that I know more about him because he and I … None of your business.”
I like that better than “Full disclosure” anyway. It allows us to wallow in even more mistrust and mistrust, as we all know, is the watchword of the 21st Century.
Why not just say it? Just say, “Tonight, I’m doing a story on Pete Rose, whom I consider a friend …” Or something.
And what’s with this:
“Sounds like a plan.”
It just SOUNDS like a plan? Is it a plan or isn’t it? If it only SOUNDS like a plan, what’s the point? Is there a plan or not? If there is, then just say, “That’s a plan.” Or, “I like that plan.”
SOUNDS like a plan makes you sound like somebody who has fallen into the trap of trying to talk like everybody else, whoever they are. I have NEVER said sounds like a plan and, yes, that makes me pretty darn near perfect, and I deliberately said NEAR perfect because I’m not ENTIRELY perfect.
Just give me a plan. Tell me what the plan is. If we agree to meet at 7 p.m. to go to the movies and you say, “Sounds like a plan,” I’m not showing up because how do I know you will?
People fall into these semantic traps as in the constant using of “arguably,” especially by sportswriters who, apparently, (or arguably) don’t want to commit to something. Can’t they just say it? Can’t they just express a solid opinion? Are they so worried about being wrong and picked on via Twitter or some other idiotic medium?
I have my own semantic traps that involve the use of four-letter words that become seven-letter adjectives that I use far too often and for the use of which I genuinely (or arguably) feel stupid. Really. I am (arguably?) smart enough to express myself without resorting to the words to which I resort, yet I resort. And I’m not sure why. And, no, it is not something I picked up in the Navy, although there was certainly some creative cursing below decks of the USS America and maybe on the flight deck, too, but much harder to hear what with Phantoms and Skyhawks making so much damn noise. See? I did it again. Why not just “noise”?
Well, we all have our problems. Except, of course, Donald Trump because any problems he encounters he just blames on someone else.
Maybe we should all try that.