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P.H.A.B.

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fun

By 5:15 PM , , , , ,


Last night, a bird, from up there, dumped a full load on me.

If you've ever seen that Gary Larson comic about the bird's eye view and everybody walking underneath a bird on its perch wears a target on his head...well, my head was the bull's eye last night.

Something hit me squarely on my crown as I briskly walked with B. It felt like an acorn at first. If a penny could kill someone when dropped from the top of the Empire State Building, then a squirt from 20ft high could easily feel like a rock or a pine cone.

When I patted my hair to check what hit me, brown, wet, gritty fun smeared all over my palm. Fun (foon) is not fun. Fun commonly refers to animal droppings in Japanese. For example, uguisu-no-fun* is a skincare product made with "nightingale (uguisu) poo". It claims this potent ingredient "bleaches" and clears your skin.

There's also un (oon), when combined with various endings (un-ko, un-chi, etc.), means general excrement, human and animal alike. Incidentally, un is a homonym for "luck", on the punster-filled island of Japan. It's both curious and convenient that I grew up being told that any bit of contact with un, the poo, means that un, the luck, is with you. If you step on shit, you've walked into fortune. If a bird shits on you, luck landed on you.

Nice try.

On and on this culture valiantly attempts to elevate any unintended encounter with feces. But no amount of wit and wordsmithing can wipe away (no pun intended, seriously) the insult of being shat on by another living creature. Really, that's the lowest low. I can't think of any act more degrading. It makes being spat on feel like a bear hug.

I tried to walk off my outrage with another lap around the park, because getting back into the car this incensed would have endangered others, as well as myself. But then I remembered that I was wearing a load of bird shit (nightingale or not) on my head, so I hightailed it home to shampoo, rinse and repeat.

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*The written character for fun in this product's package uses the character for "powder" instead of the character for "dropping", I'm guessing, to downplay the unsavory origin of its key ingredient. Because why would you want to be reminded that you paid good money to smear bird shit all over your face. And you guessed it, fun is a homonym for both "powder" and "dropping". But this is the main ingredient that the mftr is pushing onto the consumer. WTF? How do you downplay that? 99% of Japanese speakers if they hear, not see, the words uguisu-no-fun, they would hear it as "nightingale poo", not "nightingale powder" because nobody refers to powder as fun, but rather kona (besides the fact that nightingale powder does not naturally occur in nature only in marketing departments!) This pun is sliding into home base on a technicality, and certainly not for elegant and clever usage. But I'm venturing into Japanese linguistics so I will stop myself. I merely wanted to point out the clumsy way in which this manufacturer employed the ole switcharoo technique. The elephant in the room is wearing a pair of bunny ears. It's the wolf in sheep's clothing. It's dipping a pile of manure in chocolate and calling it a delicacy. I'm not sure whether the manufacturer realized that they could wordplay with powder/poo because this cleanser is a dry product that you mix into your cleanser, or they sought to produce a powder product so they can force this wordplay and get away with it. It's a nightingale or the egg situation. As my friend Richard would say, "...this all seems suspect."

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