ANGST: A form of suffering caused by too much thinking; a phenomenon probably incomprehensible to anyone who owns a recreational vehicle.
ASSEMBLY LINE: The notion that if a job is worth doing, it's worth repeating 9,614 times a day.
BOOKCASE: A piece of furniture used in America to house bowling trophies and Elvis collectibles.
BULIMIA: Retched excess.
CHIC: Considered smart without the deadening implication of intelligence..
CLIQUE: A group of insiders who greet outsiders with their backsides; a closed circle of asses.
CONNOISSEUR: One who attains an obsessive knowledge of wines, audio equipment, cats or French cheeses so as to confer a sense of inadequacy on those who would simply enjoy them.
CONSULTANT: A jobless person who shows executives how to work.
CULTURE: The visible evidence of a tribe of bacteria, as observed by microbiologists or cynics.
DENTURES: Two rows of artificial ivories that may be removed periodically to frighten one's grandchildren or provide accompaniment to Spanish music.
DNA: A complex organic molecule characterized as the building block of life and appropriately shaped like a spiral staircase to nowhere.
ERUDITE: Exhibiting a degree of book learning fatal to success in any business or romantic enterprise.
FAD: A folly committed by enough of the right people to confer upon it the badge of status.
FIBER: Edible wood-pulp said to aid digestion and prolong life, so that we might enjoy another six or eight years in which to consume wood-pulp.
FUNERAL HOME: A stately manse occupied by transients who continually receive visitors but lack the energy and inclination to entertain them.
GENETIC ENGINEERING: Tampering with chromosomes so that science might develop a new miracle cure or a rabbit that plays the banjo.
HIP: Smartly attuned to the latest cutting-edge cliches.
HOUSEPLANTS: Vegetable companions; pleasant green pets that rarely bite or throw up on the carpet.
IDEOLOGUE: Typically an obscure humorless zealot who finds fulfillment by spouting the ideas of famous humorless zealots.
JOB: A state of employment everyone wants but few look forward to on a Monday morning.
LAWYER: A professional advocate hired to bend the law on behalf of a paying client; for this reason considered the most suitable background for entry into politics.
LECHER: A stud with liver spots.
LOOTING: A public shopping spree generously sponsored by local merchants in the wake of a riot.
LOTTERY: The equivalent of betting that the next pope will be from Duluth, or that the parrot in the pet store window speaks Flemish.
MATH ANXIETY: An intense lifelong fear of two trains approaching each other at speeds of 60 and 80 mph.
MIRROR: A truthful reflector shunned by vampires, hypocrites and aging fashion models.
MUGGER: A benevolent citizen of the streets who frequently spares the lives of total strangers in exchange for any cash and valuables in their possession.
NECKTIE: A decorative noose worn by businessmen.
NEGOTIATING: The art of persuading your opponent to take the nice shiny copper penny and give you the wrinkled old paper money.
NEUROTIC: Sane but unhappy about it.
OBITUARY: A final summation of our lives that, for most of us, occupies about three inches of space in what will shortly become cage liner for our neighbor's parakeet.
POSITIVE THINKING: Self-improvement through self-deception.
PROFESSIONAL MODEL: Cheekbones that sell cosmetics; hipbones that sell anorexia.
QUALITY OF LIFE: What an industrialized nation is said to offer when enough of its citizens are suffering from terminal stress.
REPRESSED: Sitting on one's inner demon to keep it decorously immobilized, as practiced by lifelong Presbyterians or anyone who attempts to exchange pleasantries with a tyrannical boss.
REVOLUTIONARY: An oppressed person wating for the opportunity to become an oppressor.
SHALLOWNESS: The root cause of chronic good health, high school popularity, appearance on the fiction bestseller lists, and gainful employment on local TV news broadcasts.
STAR: A performer who makes
more than his or her agent. Also
SUPERSTAR: A performer who makes more than Guatemala.
TABOO: Any strict cultural prohibition that, when breached, causes everyone in the group to gasp; e.g., cannibalism, public nudity, serving fried pork rinds at a Hasidic wedding, or answering the question "How are you?" in the negative.
UNEMPLOYMENT: The usual alternative to overwork.
URINAL: The one place where all men are peers.
WAKE: 1. A convivial soiree with a preserved corpse in the room. 2. What the mourners would be visibly startled to see the corpse do, especially those expecting a sizable inheritance.
X-CHROMOSOME: A genetic double-cross that empowers women with the ability to bear children and reserves for men the right to be color-blind hemophiliacs.
ZOMBIE: A mirthless creature beloved by teenage horror movie fans and those in charge of the hiring at accounting firms.