But What Else Rhymes with "Nose"?

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snow joke1.jpgThe recent brouhaha over whether or not the practice of “yoga” represents cultural appropriation is a deeper swamp than I care to wade into at the moment, thanks. I’ve been helping a friend in dealing with his own crisis of political correctness and cultural appropriation.

My friend is a poet, writer, singer, and incidentally my old English teacher. He’s also the leader of a popular regional barbershop quartet, and it was in that capacity that he contacted me.

His ensemble is preparing their Christmas setlist, and one of the jewels of their repertoire is a lovely four-voice rendering of Mel Torme’s Christmas Carol. You know the one:

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack frost nipping at your nose; Yuletide carols being sung by a choir, And folks dressed up like Eskimos…”

You see the problem? So did he. “We don’t want to offend anybody,” he explained. “But those ARE the words. You’ve got some Inuit friends. Would you mind quietly asking whether they’d find that offensive?”

So I contacted an Iqaluit friend, a modern, sophisticated, well-traveled young Inuit entrepreneur, and asked what she thought. Her verdict: you could get away with it in Alaska, and even with older folks in the Western Arctic. “But,” she said, “Any Inuk from West of Inuvik and younger than sixty is going to find that word demeaning. I hate to say it, but I’d tell your friend not to use it.”

I passed the word on to my friend, who glumly accepted the recommendation.

He is, however, a poet as well as a singer, and within a day had come up with a very imaginative workaround. This Christmas, his ensemble WILL be performing “The Christmas Song”, proudly edited to reflect our culture of heightened sensitivity. The new lyrics:

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, it’s colder than a witch’s tit; Yuletide carols being sung be a choir, and folks dressed up like Inuit…”

Crisis averted. What could possibly be objectionable about that?

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This page contains a single entry by Balbulican published on November 22, 2015 12:08 PM.

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