Unwanted Expressions

Unwanted Expressions | Illustration by Asher J. Klassen

Remember Shakespeare? Sure you do.  He’s the guy with all the footnotes and explanations throughout his texts, though he didn’t put them there.

The post-Shakespearean changes haven’t always been for the better. One thoroughly unpleasant innovation is the inclusion of subtle insults into our discussions. Things like, “You just don’t get it, do you?” It’s most often used by zealous environmentalists, but by no means exclusively because it so neatly asks how come you’re so stupid when I am so very smart.      

Language is influenced and consequently best suited to the generation that happens to be in its prime. It isn’t a matter of being “good” or “bad” but most useful to those who use it the most – in business, pleasure and invective.

That’s probably why a put-down like “You just don’t get it” sounds insulting to some of us, though they seem to do the job for the current prime time folks. And hey, winning has always been the name of the game, hasn’t it? Still, I just can’t help noticing that the rules for achieving victory seem to have changed quite a bit lately.


Introduction to Drabek’s Glossas

According to one wag the two signs of old age are:

a. the inability to stay with a thought.

b. the inability to leave that thought.

As a well-established octogenarian, I have been warned of the dangers. In this collection, I have tried to avoid them by limiting myself to one-page essays, which I call glossas. I feel that brevity has become a lost art in this age when so many people live in constant fear of being misunderstood. We tend to explain and explain — God, how we explain! And since our emails often abbreviate only words, not thoughts, I consider this to be a pioneering effort.

My glossas deal with some of the things I feel qualified to comment upon and quite a few I don’t. That too is downright revolutionary, because until now it has been largely assumed that such things as conflict avoidance and pathology should be left to the experts. But let’s be honest about it: that kind of approach has left us with two world wars and something called 9/11. And we’re still without a cure for the common cold.

This volume then breaks entirely new ground in that it explores home remedies. And since the paper’s getting short, let’s begin.

Jan Drabek

Jan Drabek


The octogenarian Jan Drabek has been an ambassador in Africa, Chief of Protocol, author, Vancouver High School teacher, a graduate student in southern India, a radio announcer in Germany, a sailor aboard a US aircraft carrier, and a failed naval aviator trainee.