Perhaps owing to her gender, Daphne Potter could not drone on for hours in a cadaverous baritone monotone. But although she failed to compete in my area of linguistic-torture expertise, her skill in scattering abusive likes and y’knows in the course of turning statements into questions by raising the pitch at the end (“My art is about, y‘know, color? And, like, space? And about how color controls space?”) was without local parallel.
Yes, Potter could do all this and more. Notably, Potter pronounced her -ings as -eens, and, while I never mentioned anything about it — never leaked any reaction of any kind when she announced the arrival of a parkeen ticket, offered to pick sometheen up from the store or invited me to an art openeen — in private, I’d don a Dick Dastardly mustache of superiority and cackle with nefarious glee (nyah-ha-ha-HAAAHHHHH!!!) nonstop for hours, delighted as I was at my obvious enunciative superiority.
Still, what most disturbed me about Potter‘s particular -eening was not my cartoony sociopathic reaction to it but Potter’s inability or reluctance to replicate it in a monosyllabic context. She said, clearly and easily, ring and cling and string. It was only by adding one or more syllables to the front end that Potter‘s -een would appear at the rear.
A year or so ago, I stayed awake all night applying all I’d learned from Chomsky and Jackendoff, trying to solve this linguistic mystery: If Potter can say I Ching, why does she say eateen?
Then I fell asleep and forgot about it.
Until just recently, when I awoke to the following voice mail:
Hi, Dave! My name is Colleen? And I‘m calleen from Unintelligible Media here in Los Angeles? Calleen regardeen your Sitegeist page? And wondereen what your specifications are for possible shoppeen suggestions and locations throughout the L.A. area? Specifically as they relate to beauty and style, beauty, cosmetics and makeup for the Angelenos? And where their favorite unique and unusual locations are to go shoppeen for beauty products? Um, I have a woman who has created a line of natural skin, bath and body-care products, and owner of a modern apothecary called [unintelligible] here in Los Angeles? Very interesteen, unique different things about it . . . um . . . “customized beauty-customization” is sometheen that is now popular across the board, from fashion to style to beauty! Which is sometheen that they do! They actually go out to people’s homes to develop their own personal line based on their lifestyle! My number here is [unintelligible], and I would love to send you some information on her, or if you‘d be interested in stoppeen in to her store in Los Angeles for consideration! Again, my number is [unintelligible], and you can ask for Colleen! Thank you! B-bye, Dave!
After listening to the message three times, I saved it on a microcassette and played it for friends. We couldn’t quite figure it out: Why was this Colleen calling me? Did I do something bad to her? Someone at work once told me that her mother hated me because of something I‘d written about hair stylists, even though, to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never written anything about hair stylists. Or skin stylists. Was that it? And what were the odds that someone named Colleen would develop Potter‘s -een proclivity? Had it happened because of her name?
Most important: “Modern apothecary.” Drugs! (Drugs? Plus cold-calling public relations? Equals . . . free samples?)
A few days later, I received a package containing two trial-size bottles of hair-care products — Tea Tree Chamomile Methylchloroisothiazolinone Shampoo and Lemon Mint Methylparaben Conditioner — accompanied by an expensive-looking folder filled with public-relations gobbledygook and a cover letter:
Per my voice mail, I have enclosed information on a Los Angeles–based modern apothecary, where Angelenos love to lather up! For consideration in your “Sitegeist” page, [illegible] is the one-stop shopping spot that will fulfill your every skin and beauty need (man, woman & child) . . . [It goes on, but I do not.]
Three days later, I received a second voice mail:
Hi, Dave? This is Colleen calleen from Unintelligible Media here in Los Angeles? Calleen regardeen some information I sent to you on an L.A.-based modern apothecary called [unintelligible]? Um, hopefully, you saw that? What it is is a all-natural, um, skin, body and hair-care store, um, that was created by a very young entrepreneur, Persephone Wainwright, who comes from a background of entrepreneurial, um, development, but wanted to see if this is sometheen that you might consider for your Sitegeist page, um, if you’re ever considereen doeen maybe a beauty-beat-shopping-the-best-places-to-find-really-unique-, um, beauty-skin-or-hair-care-items report? Um, I would definitely love for you to consider, or if you‘d like to speak with Persephone on this? Um, sometheen unique is that they do customization? Or custom blendeen, which you may or may not have heard of, but what they do is have a entire team that can go out to your home to, uh, both study and take notes on your personal preferences? And then createen a line based on this! My number here is [unintelligible], and you can ask for Colleen! Thank you, Dave! B-bye.
After the second voice mail, after saving it and comparing it to the original message, I noticed a peculiar consistency: Colleen’s raised-pitch non-interrogatories tended to dissolve toward the end of her recitations as her tone became more and more exclamatory.
I was hooked. Colleen‘s marketing strategy had worked. I got Unintelligible Media’s unintelligible number from 411. The receptionist said that Colleen had gone for lunch and sent me to her voice-mail box, into which I released the cadaverous baritone monotone good news:
Hi, Colleen. My name is Dave, and you called regarding information and chemicals you sent by mail and by an earlier voice-mail message in which you wondered about my specifications as they relate to beauty and style — beauty, cosmetics and makeup for the Angelenos — and where our favorite unique and unusual locations are to go shopping for beauty products, and you mentioned that you have a woman — a very young entrepreneur, Persephone Wainwright, who comes from an entrepreneurial background of entrepreneurial development — who has created products and sells them in a modern apothecary she owns in L.A., which is an all-natural skin, body and hair-care store, so you‘d wanted to see if this is something that I might want to advertise for with my newspaper column, and the answer is yes.
* * *
Media Monitoreen: Media monitoreen includes scanneen daily, weekly and monthly online and offline publications for relevant new items that can be “clipped” because they contain references to the organization, its competitors and industry trends.
Byline: A byline is often an article ghost written [sic] by a PR practitioner on behalf of their [sic] client. It is an excellent vehicle for positioneen the client as an expert in a particular field. The “writer” elucidates on issues or trends relateen to the industry, although the client’s specific products andor services are never mentioned.
In addition to these and other invaluable definitions in its Dictionary of PR Services (www.pydea.comresourcesdictionary.htm), Pydea Public Relations of Toronto also offers everlasteen life and custom blendeen.#