©Sara Schupack 2013

©Sara Schupack 2013


Jerk, Creep

It’s too bad that these words aren’t used so much any more. All of the penis and butt terms (prick, dick, asshole etc.) get tedious, and don’t say very much. Jerk and creep are opposites, but both sound ugly, acidic, puce in color, or pinky-beige-brown –- a sick tan color like that of a 1970’s plastic dial phone. They give off a scratchy, oozing sound that makes your skin crawl and causes you to keep clearing your throat, as if either you must purge yourself of any creepiness or jerkiness inside of you, or protect yourself from their smokey fingers snaking their way in to you through mouth and nostrils.

Jerk – quick, jolting, uneven movements. A jerk surprises you with his sudden meanness like a slap in the face from someone you thought you might like. A jerk knocks the wind out of you with her startling acts of cruelty, or at best, obnoxiousness. He jerks towards you and you jerk away. A school boy tugging the quiet girl’s pigtails. Maybe jerks do secretly love and want to be loved, but they don’t know how. Still, the hurt and destruction they cause is unforgettable. “What a jerk! I can’t believe she just did that.”

Creep – slow, silent, insidious. A bad feeling or odor creeps up on you. A creep doesn’t strike suddenly like a jerk, yet you’re surprised by her nastiness just the same, maybe more so, because you know you should have seen it coming, while foolishly hoping for better. She keeps showing you tantalizing glimpses of a kinder, more tender person, which is a complete act, or possibly a self that she too hopes for, but will never achieve. Instead, he retreats to what he knows, the petty, ungenerous, protected self that gets results. “What a creep! I knew he’d do that, but I’m still so sorry  that he did.”

Plumb out of luck

You can plumb depths  –- and that’s what a plumber does with your clogged pipes– depths you’d rather not delve into. Plumb out of luck is down in the dregs, the bottom of the pit of your last resources, where not a speck of luck remains, not even a twinkling, barely valuable fleck of gold clinging to a dull rock in the muck of a river bottom. “Plumb” is cute too, bouncy and round, like the beautiful  purple fruit. “Plumb out of luck”, quaint and outdated, ends up not so dark and dismal as it might be. A plum is the shyer sister to the peach: peachy keen, she’s a peach, peaches n’ cream, connoting female delectability, good health, light humor, cheery juiciness. Maybe someone who is jovially self-deprecating and only playfully morose might find herself plumb out of luck, yet not be debilitated by that. He’d shrug, chuckle, and stumble along good-naturedly until luck might catch up with him again.


The light side of fate or destiny. It doesn’t deny larger patterns that we might not yet see, but it allows for randomness and whimsy. We can choose to dance with it or simply walk away with a shrug. It is not the heavy, rank net of fate –- crusty and slimy with old sea water — snagging us and not letting go. It has serene at the start, peaceful, contemplative, with the goofy, hopping dipity at the finish (zippity dipity doo da). When someone is a dip (short for dip shit?), one is a fool, a fuck-up, an idiot. I remember coming upon a dip as a traffic-slowing feature, the opposite of the bump. That one word on an official street sign– “Dip” –- had my younger sister and me in hysterics. Are you a dip for noticing and appreciating serendipity? Or is serendipity a dip for showing up unannounced? A yin yang balance between serenity and dippiness allows you to chuckle at the elementary school friend who ends up on the other end of a call to your discount brokerage. You don’t make too much of it, but you do pause to ponder You hold the weight like a favorite marble, and you embrace the silliness because life’s too short and this could be fun.

Kick the bucket

We have several bucket metaphors. Is it because a ways back, a bucket was a basic household item, used for transporting maybe critical, survival-related materials, and also waste, indicating our detritus, our deterioration towards death? If you kick it and whatever is vital spills out, that’s it for you. Kicking a bucket is clunky and crude. I’d rather go out on fleet feet, floating, dancing, swirling and twirling out of this world. But then again, maybe making a racket, tumbling into the receptacle that is boring, simple, straightforward and a little dirty, makes sense. You can rock the boat, but not tip it over. You can do your yoga breaths and find balance in all things. Take the antioxidants and look both ways. Eat green vegetables,  buckle up, and then finally fuck it all and let loose. Kick that bucket!


©Sara Schupack, 2013

Sara Schupack grew up in Mill Valley and studied literature, creative writing, and education on the East Coast and in Asia. She enjoyed the East Asia Writing Project’s summer program in Thailand in 1997. Currently she works as Director of Developmental Education at a community college in Chicago, where she lives with her son Teddy and their parakeet Jolie. While enjoying some sledding over the winter break, she could easily do without snow, and she misses the Bay Area terribly. Email: sara.schupack@gmail.com

One Response to “Kick Plumb Jerk by Sara Schupack”

  1. Carla Says:

    All of these are phrases I like. You should enjoy “the lake effect”. I always thought that was a cool Chicago thing.

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