Yeah, you read that right. And if you were taken aback, it means you may not have fully explored all the meanings of boobs (they’re not just men’s hopes and dreams.) Today you’ll learn a boob means a stupid mistake, it also means a stupid person, and heck it can be a verb and mean to make a stupid mistake. These meanings even came before a woman’s breast: in fact, they date back to the 16th century.
I had known only one meaning of the word boob until I read On Writing Well by William Zinsser. I mean, if this word is used in a heavily edited book by one of the best non-fiction writers in the United States, I’m all in. But let us first enjoy some of the uses of the word. They are hilarious.
The government once again has made a big boob. (Collins COBUILD) The big boob doesn’t know enough to come in out of the rain. (Webster’s) Forgetting the President’s name was a bit of a boob. (This one has music in it, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)
He boobed rather badly by getting her name wrong. (Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary) Also, try replacing “silly mistakes” with “boobs” in quotes. Here’s my favorite: Do you ever make boobs? It is one of my very few creative activities. — Len Deighton.
Someday in my writing lessons, I’ll give my students handouts that ask them to identify boobs in an essay. Or I’ll encourage them to talk in my speaking lessons with the timeless advice: It is okay to boob. But I digress.
After 29 years, I’m still an incredibly big boob. Some boobs I make once. But some tend to persist. In this blog post, I’d like introspect and grab three of my biggest boobs.
Boob number 1 — I don’t follow through (or do but very late). I can’t tell how many times I’ve failed people and myself by going back on promises. These range from deadlines at work to my own goals, both those I keep to myself and those I announce to the world (which itself is another boob.) Breaking a promise is the fastest way to destroy integrity and reliability. I should be grateful that so many people in my life have been gracefully tolerant towards this boob of mine and have been willing to give me a second chance, and third, and fourth. Not following through is also an efficient way to squander my life, all previous effort and time gone. Seth Godin says you either make it to the other side or just quit before you start. Also, if you happen to read Daily Rituals by Curry Mason, you’ll see that titans in different fields are masters of self-discipline. They can be boobs in this or that, but when it comes to grinding, no one can hold a candle to them. I don’t have a plan to become a titan, but this is a boob that I must rectify, and do so quick unless I want to lie in my deathbed leaving behind a life wasted on a ton of undone businesses.
Boob number 2 — I give my opinions on social media. I used to be a fervent social media user. I posted stuff and made remarks, very often passing judgment like I was a paragon of virtue. Gradually I tend to believe that using social networks like Facebook is a rather huge boob too, because it allows me to judge easily. In real life it’s hard to say something mean to someone when I can tell from their face that they are hurt. Online, conscience doesn’t gnaw that hard. So I’ve learned a tactic to avoid making boobs on social networks. Whenever I am about to ejaculate something on the inter-web, I ask myself 3 questions and often end up not saying anything at all: (1) Does what I’m going to say do any good? (2) Is what I say well informed or merely reactive? and (3) Does it make any difference whether I say it or not? (Hint: most of the time it doesn’t.)
Boob number 3 — I give unsolicited advice. I feel good when I can give timely advice, but it’s a boob to give advice when not asked for. It’s simply presumptuous and no one likes a smart alec. I once or twice jumped into others’ inbox just to give them advice because they shared some problem on their Facebook timeline. That’s when we say I “boobed rather badly.” Fortunately most people are polite enough to say thanks to the “bestowed wisdom”, but please just keep it to yourself, Quang.
To boob or not to boob? I say to boob. However, distinction must be made between boobs that help me grow as a person and boobs that do a disservice to others. I have a fair share of the latter, and I am terribly sorry. Now I may look like I’m going to make boob number 1 when I say this, but I promise I will try to make fewer boobs that hurt others, especially those I truly care about.