May 12, 2003

You suck!

In an online community I belong to, it is very common for one person to say to another "You suck!" and instead of the thread deteriorating in flames, the recipient of this epithet will either preen quietly to himself, or say "thank you". This can seem to be a bit of a mystery to the uninitiated, and yet this usage of the phrase "you suck" has wide applicability in similar contexts in real life.

The list is the oldtools mailing list. It is dedicated to the discussion of old non-electrically-powered tools, mostly woodworking tools. A large part of the discussion centers around the acquisition of said tools and many postings include accounts of the latest deal the author has scored. These postings are generally somewhat boastful, and some members have perfected them into a sort of art form that is known as the Gloat.

There are various forms of Gloat. There's the straightforward Gloat: "I got a 1872 fangumpulator in perfect condition for only five bucks!" And long story Gloats where the reader gets to follow along from the beginning of the contact between buyer and seller, allowing the reader to vicariously experience the thrill of the hunt. Then there's the Drive-by Gloat where a poster slips an offhand reference to a deal into a discussion of another topic.

The Gloat is such a common form on oldtools that there has evolved a standard form for acknowledging one which brings us to the subject of today's bit of blather. When someone tells you that they bought a mint Stanley #1 in the original box over the weekend you say, "you suck!" And when they tell you that the asking price was $25 you holler, "you suck!" And when they make it known that they were able to talk the seller down to $5, you collapse in pain and whimper "you suck!"

The phrase perfectly communicates the combination of jealousy and admiration such revelations inspire in the hearer. It is simultaneously attaboy and pout.

I find myself starting to use this phrase outside of the oldtools group from time to time, but catch myself since it might be interpreted differently than I intend. So now that you've read this, if I ever slip and use it on you, you'll now know how to react.

And I bring all this up because my friend Tom decided on Friday to work at home today, and a little while ago he made it known that he was calling it a day so he could do some work around the house in roughly these words:

It's a beautiful Spring day here on the river, and I have the wood stove going, and the door open so I can hear the birds and river, and the Rhodies are starting to bloom, and everything is growing like mad, and I get to spend the afternoon outside working with my hands.


Tom, I just have one thing to say to that, and I mean it in the nicest possible way.

You suck!

Posted by jeffy at May 12, 2003 03:31 PM

d'oh! a blank comment.

anyway, this didn't go where I thought you were going. I guessed that you would talk about extending "you suck" to the original, and how you would take that as a compliment in a cool sex-positive way.

I like the oldtools stuff.

Posted by: Anita Rowland at May 16, 2003 12:35 PM

So along the lines of the bumper sticker that says:

Mean people suck. Nice people swallow.

That works too ;-)

Posted by: jeffy at May 16, 2003 12:50 PM