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April 22nd, 2011 / 6:22 pm
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you douche

I’ve been wondering about the term douche bag. Why is it so good, so apt, so fun and on the button to say? What other label (and it is a label) so perfectly calibrated? Why does it cause serotonin release when spun well, in the correct moment or setting or vibe? Why does it sound serious and canny and true? I sometimes fall in love with a person when they turn the phrase well. Right in love. What does it mean? Why does it sound to my ear both vintage and extant? And what metaphor are we working here?

Douche usually refers to vaginal irrigation, the rinsing of the vagina, but it can also refer to the rinsing of any body cavity. A douche bag is a piece of equipment for douching—a bag for holding the fluid used in douching.

Is it the sound in the mouth, in the air? Linguists, weigh in. It does come out clean: douche bag. The solid D, the pleasurable “shooosh,” the strong, grounded, anchor of “bag.” Soft and hard. Just kidding, but not kidding at all. Not at all. Serious.

So explicit, yet capacious. I mean it is  beyond jerk—jerk is an offset of a nuanced initiative, sometimes even provocative (Brando was habitually a jerk—so what? Etc.)—and asshole is understandable, as we all can relate. We are all assholes sometimes in the same way we occasionally get embarrassingly drunk, and it’s OK to say, “God, I was such an asshole…” But douche bag? That’s a pariah. I will drink beer with 99% of humanity, but not a confirmed douche bag. Never. Ever. If someone’s a douche bag, they are a douche bag, done. A douche bag is loathsome, a contemptible phony. It implies a past wrong, a meanness, a paucity, Bad Faith and bad intent. Like a serial liar or a poor tipper who then steals tips off tables when no one is looking. A turd on a wedding cake (whose simile did I just steal, I forget). A douche bag is a douche bag. Fuck them all. A D-bag. A douche. A douche bag. It is a good term, I like it, I like saying it and hearing it said, and it does provide one clear goal in an oft diabolical  life of puzzling. To not be one.

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