Friday, January 5, 2007

Er, so's your face...

I've clearly been living in a cultureless ditch lately because until yesterday I never knew there was an expression for all those witty comebacks you think of way too late to ever use. Apparently in French it's l'esprit d'escalier or "the wit of the staircase" and Treppenwitz in German.

There's not really an equivalent in English - and you know your language is screwed when you're been beaten by the gutteral beauty of... German.

UPDATE: I came across this little example of staircase wit and wouldn't resist. This one supposedly comes from Truman Capote's long-term partner John O'Shea but I swear I've seen another version told from Capote's point of view. Anyway:
"We were at that backyard restaurant at the other end of the island, in a
bar," Truman Capote's lover John 0'Shea once recalled.

"The place was jammed with locals... maybe what you'd call the transient
locals... like Jimmy Kirkwood and Peter Fonda and the usual clutch of game-fish
machos roughing each other up for the benefit of those English queens down from
Sugar Loaf or wherever it is they live, and things were pretty lively all

"Anyway, up to our tables comes this chick... not bad, but full of gush,
who turns around, flips up a miniskirt and asks Truman to autograph her buns.
Not batting an eyelash, he takes out a felt-tipped pen and scrawls his name
across a plump little buttock. It was funny, really sort of nice.

"Then, not two minutes later, comes this kid bartender, Joey, they call
him, who's obviously been eyeing the proceedings. The thing is, he's got his
jockey shorts in his hand and not where they should be. One quick cruise and -
everybody's listening now - I turn to Truman. 'You can't sign your name on
that,' I said, 'but maybe you could initial it.'"

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