I used to know this girl who was genuinely the most bubbly character you could ever meet.
I haven’t seen her in a long time but the last I knew she was still single. It’s not that she wasn’t pro-active in seeking love. She advertised her wares on half a dozen dating websites.
Her problem was that when describing herself she always opted for the term ‘bubbly’. Many jokes have been made about the sort of women who describe themselves as ‘bubbly’ in classified ads. The assertion is that ‘bubbly’ is an term oft used by ladies of a larger waist size. It’s got to the stage where the joke has been used so many times it’s now taken as read that ‘bubbly’ translates as ‘fat’.
The irony is this friend of mine was of athletic build without a pick of fat on her, but due to her steadfast desire to be accurate in her description of herself, her suitors assumed her to be a bit of a porker.
She went on to list her hobbies as stamp collecting, train spotting and resurrecting the Third Reich, but I believe her ‘bubbly’ description was what was putting the men off.
The process whereby fiction becomes fact highlights the big problem with making the same joke over and over again.
Here’s another example.
Whenever you don’t know a bloke’s name there’s a fair chance you’ll colloquially refer to him as Joe Bloggs. Such was the widespread use of friendly, ‘catch-all’ name in the UK that it gave rise to a clothing brand in the 1990s.
And thus Joe Bloggs, whose name originated as a means for the masses to identify a nameless person, became an en vogue name sought by nameless masses up and down the United Kingdom.
Interestingly, the German equivalent of a one-name-fits-all for men is Max Mustermann. I’ve no idea whether or not he got as far as selling his own Leiderhosen range.
My final example is one which was in the news last week.
In Japan, the stock market was turned on its head due to what the international media were reporting as a ‘fat finger’ error.
The mistake caused £370 billion worth of shares in companies such as Toyota and Honda to be made then cancelled.
Shouldering the blame for the catastrophe was an anonymous trader, or more specifically his fat finger, that made the typo and produced the mass panic.
It’s a real pity we are so quick to cite human error in these situations rather than blame the real culprit - shrinking technology.
The reason for typos is because the devices onto which we are typing are getting smaller and smaller, thus meaning that even the most slender finger is rendered fat.
How many of us have made a mistake in a text message or a post on Facebook and immediately blamed our fat fingers? The joke’s on us. It’s now a recognised term for describing typographical errors.
I had intended to finish this week’s column with a deliberate typo, but in the last couple of minutes I’ve been hit with a blast from the past.
I’ve just been befriended on Facebook by the girl I was talking about at the start of this ramble. She’s living in Berlin and working for the national railway’s postal department. Better still, she’s no longer single. According to her Facebook page she’s now in a relationship with Max Mustermannmnm.