Spritzing the bonobos
In a post late last night I complained about those vile fragrance dispensers in men’s rooms, saying, “It’s rather as if someone went to the zoo and spritzed the bonobos with Dollar Store perfume.” Not too long afterward, the estimable John Cowan, one of my most regular readers and commenters, remarked, “I hope that ‘spritzing the bonobos’ will become a new expression for futility. I certainly intend to use it at the next opportunity.”
I would be honored to contribute a phrase to the language, the more so since the originators of many expressions that gained currency are unknown to lexicographers, and you are more than welcome to make use of this phrase as you see fit.
But I recall that in the early years of the Letterman show, David Letterman once tried to plant catch phrases in the language—as a copy editor, I was much taken with “They’re pelting us with rocks and garbage.” None of them took off, though Letterman enjoyed viewers in the millions.
We have also seen the dismal failure of publicity campaigns to persuade the Oxford English Dictionary to include words that have not gained a place on their own momentum, and there is a rich history of failed attempts to manufacture an epicene pronoun in English to avoid the use of they in the singular. No need even to mention the simplified-spelling people.
So I am afraid, readers, dearly as I love you, all and severally, that you probably do not have the muscle to plant “spritzing the bonobos” in the language. But if you want to have some fun with it, no one can stop you.