Excessive Air Quoters

September 14, 2009

I went to graduate school with a girl we all called Pirate. She earned this unfortunate moniker because of a permanent retainer she wore on her bottom row of teeth. It wrapped around her two bottom eye teeth, covering them in silver metal. Whenever she laughed or excitedly smiled for a picture, I would have a brief flashback to the scene in “Goonies” when Anne Ramsey, may she rest in peace, made Mikey walk the plank after she and her sons ambushed him aboard One Eyed Willie’s pirate ship. But this is not about Pirate’s nickname. It’s about her obsession and mismanagement of air quotes.

Pirate had a tendency toward the cheesy side of life. She couldn’t help it. She was from the pan handle of Florida and drove a green Thunderbird. That, and she wore Jordache jeans. But being cheesy was no excuse for her excessive use of air quotes. When she would present her designs to our teachers she would air quote words like “idea” and “concept”, as to say that she had no ideas nor concepts. I could almost forgive her that. It’s very nerve-racking to have to get up in front of a second rate academic with everything to prove and your peers and present a building that you know, will never, ever be complete.

But it was also the way she air quoted. She didn’t raise her hands and form the “v” with her index and middle fingers. Instead, she’d pull her hands from her pocket, and like a cowboy in the old west, shoot the air quotes out from the side of her hips. It was like air quotes at the O K Corral. I was always waiting for her to blow on her fingers and say “Nice air quoting, Tex”.

One afternoon Pirate and I were talking about her Asian boyfriend. He lived somewhere out-of-state and they did not get to see one another very often. Usually, I would say that long distance relationships don’t work, but in Pirate’s case, they did. Pirate was a virgin who was saving herself for marriage. Having a boyfriend several hundred miles away is a lot easier when your loins are quivering on a nightly basis. But I digress. Pirate was so happy that day because her boyfriend had sent her “roses” and they were her favorite “flower”. I had to shake my head and think “No she didn’t.”

Let me say that I’m not opposed to air quotes. They can be quite effective if used appropriately and sparingly. For example, when I tell my new friends about Pirate, I say “Yeah, she was a total “pirate”. “I don’t mean that she swabbed decks and walked around with a parrot on her head. Just that her retainer shown under the fluorescent lights of our architectural studio the way a pirate’s fake tooth shown in the hot sun on the open seas. But when you start flipping your fingers out and air quoting words like roses and flowers, you have a problem. Did her boyfriend send her a pile of shit because its’ her favorite human excrement and she was just embarrassed to tell me that she was into scat? Did he send her a copy of High School Musical because it’s her favorite movie?

I have a theory why people overly air quote, other than being nervous. They air quote when they’re talking for the same reason they use semi colons when they’re writing: they think it makes them seem smarter. This is not the case. Air quotes are meant to express sarcasm, irony or a euphemism, so says Wikipedia. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or even a rocket mechanic, to figure out that when you air quote “roses” and “flower” you’re not using it for code. Especially if the air quoter is a cheese-monger from bumble fuck Florida who thinks it’s still hip to refer to the entire homosexual population as “the gays”. And, yes, she always air quoted that phrase, too.

We graduated and Pirate moved far away before I ever had a chance to opine about her excessive use of air quotes. But Pirate, if you’re reading this, here’s my advice:

1. The next time you feel the urge to air quote, take a deep breath and count to three. If it still seems like a good idea, go for it.

2. Get rid of the retainer. No one cares about your bottom teeth and it’s really distracting. I’ll have to think of a new nickname for you, but I’m up to the challenge.

3. Watch a couple episodes of “What Not to Wear” and take notes.

4. Step out of the 80’s and buy a new car.

5. Get laid. Or at least start pleasuring yourself. It feels good and it will give you something else to do with your hands.

My advice to everyone else:

The next time you’re talking to someone and they air quote something totally retarded like: “Yellow” is my favorite “color”, think of Pirate in her Jordache jeans driving down to nowhere Florida in her green Thunderbird and smile. Then, run and make fun of that person to anyone that will listen. That’s what I do.


6 Responses to “Excessive Air Quoters”

  1. corbin Says:

    You so funny. But when I use semicolons it’s not to make myself seem smarter. There are valid reasons.

  2. Melinda Says:

    We’ve had this discussion before and I’m still using air quotes and you can’t stop me, Michael. I was also unaware that you could still purchase Jordache jeans anywhere besides a second hand store. I think I use them “appropriately” though, especially when I’m being “sarcastic” or just plain “snotty”.

  3. Michael Says:

    As long as you don’t start shooting them from your hip like Pirate, I guess it’s okay.

  4. […] the only one who disliked Pirate (for a complete explanation of why Pirate was so annoying, see Excessive Air Quoters). You see, two friends of mine were out playing trivia one night after class at a local bar. […]

  5. […] you’ve read my post, “Excessive Air Quoters” you have a pretty clear understanding of who Pirate is and why, if you ever see her on the […]

  6. […] one of three decisions. First, we can take the path of Pirate (for more information on Pirate, see Excessive Air Quoters and Pirate Part Two: Cultural Insensitivity) and quit our architectural pursuits and study […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: