Abbreviations and acronyms make me cringe.
Abbreviations have been something akin to my mortal enemy ever since my grandmother would force me to write letters with abbrs. and acronyms –whenever possible– (*criiiinge*) in them. She was so proud of her treasure trove of abbreviations, specifically: they were part of her legacy after having been a secretary for many many years. Although technically she wasn’t a secretary but an accountant (and apparently a very good one) most of her life self-identification came from knowing she was a good “secretary” (I don’t know! Blame it on the 40s and 50s).
And so, abbr’s and acronyms became a part of my life that I resented. I enjoy seeing words written all the way. And I enjoy getting the full meaning, without having to resort to Google to figure out the meaning of mysterious groupings of letters, or words sadly truncated and gone too soon.
It’s not so much that these abbreviations and acronyms are not practical: they are. And there is always a place for them. Most people with a sinus infection would probably kill themselves if they were required to make an appointment with an otorrhinolaryngologist instead of an E-N-T, I’m sure– or rather, to be required to pronounce the word in order to get the appt. (<—*cringe*). And some abbreviations have become so commonplace that we don't think of them as abbreviations or acronyms, but as real words; for instance, when was the last time you realized that nylon, that versatile little compound, was actually christened after the two cities where the scientists that developed them were (that would be New York and London: N.Y.-Lon. Get it?).
Most self-respecting geeks know that RADAR (Radio Detection And Ranging), SONAR (Sound Navigation And Ranging) and LASER (Light Amplification By Stimulated Emission of Radiation) are such examples. In a romantic moment of geek mysticism, I remember falling in love with my husband even more when, without a moment’s hesitation he was able to rattle off what LASER stood for. Love that man. *heart*
No one gives a thought to the U.N. (in more ways than one) or to NATO. No one questions the INTERPOL or UNESCO or even UNICEF. In other professions there are 401(k)s, the S&P, NASDAQ, AWOL, MIA, S, M, L, XL…. bla bla bla….. and OJT, to name a few random ones. Yes. It’s an abbreviated world in many ways. The military loves them. The government loves them. The media loves them (Bennifer? TomKat?).
Abbreviations and Acronyms. The bread-and-butter of the everyday.
I’m okay with them, really I am. I mean, I don’t want to complicate my existence more than I need to, and really, most of them kind of sound like words. I understand the need to simplify, and in some cases the acronyms (specifically) have become like little words. Like NICU (the neonatal intensive care unit), which even has its own weirdo pronounciation (“KNEE-koo”).
But nothing ever ever ever ever, and I repeat just for emphasis…. EVER prepared me to the psychotic world to trying to communicate with obstetricians and other expectant mothers. Or should I say OBs and PG women?
It’s not that I resent communicating with any of them. What I resent is that these two groups of people insist upon communicating in precious little but abbreviations, acronyms and weirdly euphemistic code names for things, somehow making this already kind of self-conscious time even more confusing and annoying. For instance, when I started posting in this (really wonderful, really) board for pregnant mommas, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what CM, BFP, BFN, AF, and BD were– to name a few. Once I read up on abbreviation posts and sites, and I Googled the crap of such puzzlers, I was a little revulsed.
I know we are all living in a need-it-quick, pressed-for-time world, but…. can’t we all just come out and say things like VAGINAL (or cervical, I guess) DISCHARGE? I’M PREGNANT? NEVERMIND, I’M NOT PREGNANT? I HAVE MY PERIOD? I JUST BONED MY HUSBAND AND BOY, WAS IT REALLY REALLY GOOD! SEXSEXSEXSEX I HAD SEX!!!!!!!!
Seriously. If most of us were successful enough at having sex and are therefore on the pregnant boat, shouldn’t it be expected that we are mature enough to use the terms for the actions that got us there in the first place? (Thinking that one over… I realize the answer is a “no.” However, I find it ironic that sometimes teen mothers are more willing to be candid and direct and less euphemistic than the older mothers who have never called their vagina or their pubis by their proper names in their lives).
Aunto Flo is a funny term for one’s period. I mean….I’ve always imagined the Aunt Flo of legend as a 50-something spinster who arrives flashilly, with a tight facelift, wearing a red dress, coat, big hat with loads of flowers and clutching a large black patent leather bag. She usually comes and is a pain in the butt, but she’s kinda cranky in the way you wish you could be cranky, and she deeply enjoys taking nips of brandy when she thinks no one is watching. However, this fabulous, cranky older woman does not match the five-day crampfest that is having your friggin’ period! No. Aunt Flo is a funny euphemism, but I GET MY PERIOD. I MENSTRUATE. I OOZE CLOTTED BLOOD FROM MY VAGINA WHEN MY UTERUS ISN’T PLANNING ON USING IT FOR NURTURING A FETUS, okay? That is what happens.
So abbreviations are silly, sometimes annoying, often confusing, and yet inescapable. Which brings me to the stay-at-home moms and dads. According to everyone’s favorite blog, Dooce, the acronym SAHM could mean something else…. specifically a <"Shit Ass Ho Motherfucker," and then she proceeds to claim that she does this alternate meaning equally well. Every once in a while when I'm fed up with all the euphemism I chant to myself this alternate meaning and laugh happily and thank the heavens that people like Heather Armstrong exist.
As for the poor dads….. SAHD? Really? Are you really sad? Isn’t this a bit of a self-defeating one? They should come up with a better one, such as RAD, really amazing dad, or something. That’s an inferiority complex waiting to happen.
And then there are the WAHMs, work-at-home mommies.
But honestly…. if you’re staying at home, you’re working there. Not just “staying.” I realize that you might also run your business from home, bla bla, and that’s fine and good for you. But I claim that a) all moms who choose not to go back to a paying job are still working, and b) WAHM needs a makeover.
So I present to you WHAM! (and cue “Wake Me Up Before you Go-Go)
Working Hard At Motherhood? You bet! Because that’s in essence what we all do, when we sign up for motherhood –whether we also work in a paying job or not. And for dads….. well, you’re not WAHDs or WHADs. I promise you that much. Unless you really are dorkwads or asswads or any other-wad insults and in that case I cannot help you (see how these things are totally designed to put down the dads?). How about BAD– Brawny and Daddylicious? Bad-Ass Daddy? I thought so. The dads need better acronyms, and quickly.
Now if you’ll pardon me, I need to go live an acronym- and abbreviation-free life. ASAP.