By Larry Teren
If you are baby boomer, certain words and expressions conjure up an immediate association that those of other age groups cannot relate. Take for example, a very once-popular, one-word adjective that for a short time in the early 1960’s conveyed a feeling of disgust, one person to another. And that word is – rat fink!! And, of course, for any of us hatched in the 1950’s and shaped in the 1960’s, the word is associated with a famous parody song by the master of all masters- Allan Sherman. Anyone interested in hearing this melodious ingenious musical piece can click here. For the sake of accuracy, it should be noted that although it is spelled as two distinct words, it is pronounced rushed together in order to stress the significance of its usage, such as you ratfink bastard, you.
The reason I bring up this lesson in word usage is because I believe it is one of the expressions used by an ex-friend who took umbrage (you can look that word up as well) with something I wrote among the more than three hundred posts that appear on this site. The autumn of his discontent percolated because he felt I violated a certain trust. The alleged mistrust had to do with relaying an incident that occurred to him. He said that he told it to me in confidence. (About 20% of the stories here are incidents that occur to other people. The rest are events in my own life.) After he told me never to talk to him again I quickly pointed out that he never said it to me in confidence and that I had changed a few components of his incident including names so that no one would know about whom I was writing. (In fact, I never use anyone’s real name)
In my defense- I tell many friends and acquaintances to please visit my site. They usually respond with, “yeah, sure.” I very rarely get feedback or followup so I usually suspect that they are being polite and would rather vacuum a tile floor than read a blog site. Much to my surprise, this is the one guy who actually from time to time goes to my site to read it. Well, I guess no more.
This also brings up a point about the First Amendment. The amendment to the U.S. Constitution was put into place for a very good reason. It was recognized that a charter for a so-called free country is no good unless you protect some inherent rights. One is the right of free speech. Of course, free speech does not give one the right to say dishonest things. In today’s climate of political correctness, the right to say what you want is severely restricted if it hurts someone else’s feelings. Many baby boomers consider political correctness hogwash. Our parents taught us “sticks and stones will break our bones but names will never hurt us”. Apparently, the later generation of parents feel that name calling hurts as much as sticks and stones.
My ex-friend was not called any names nor did I reveal in the story I wrote several weeks ago any bad characteristics of the fellow. All I did was relate an incident he told me, embellished it a little with my wit and sarcasm and even made myself somewhat the dufus (you can look this word up as well) of the story.
I am honored. I don’t feel the posting in question has such a powerful negative effect. Nevertheless I apologize to him and others who may feel otherwise. I will not remove the story. If anything the point being made expresses my feelings about the subject matter discussed. I only wish one hundred thousand people would come to my site to agree or disagree. So would my server host. I can tell you that there are hundreds of other bloggers who feel the same way. Maybe, on the contrary, I deserve a Pulitzer prize for the story or the Nobel Prize in Literature? Huh? You don’t give it to rat finks? I take umbrage.
One thought on “Rat Fink”
Someone once said– in fact, I think it may have been Capote– “Betrayal is a writer’s stock-in-trade.”
That’s because the way the craft works, as writer’s, we take from the environment around us– especially what we hear & what’s said. That’s what we do– material in our writing isn’t just grabbed from the air: we get it from those close to us.
Journalists have this problem & they have to protect their sources– but that doesn’t mean they can’t use the material. Friends & family have to realize– unless there’s a prior agreement– & it better be a strong one, everything is sauce to our gander!