“Be Well, John Spartan”

[Movie quote: Sandra Bullock to Sylvester Stallone in Demolition Man, 1993]

Today was a high pain level day. Depending on many things, my arthritis can range from annoying to debilitating. It was rather higher on the scale today than desired, so I stayed home. I was scheduled to work with my author friend, helping him to stay motivated while he writes his book. I sent him a text to not expect me to show up at the usual time. He responded with “feel better.”

While I understood what his intent was (that I should reach a point in life where I was in less agony) his choice of words offers just the opposite request. To feel “better” would suggest being able to feel more effectively, thus experiencing pain with more clarity and intensity. After all, when we express the idea of practicing a musical instrument (for example) to get “better” we desire to be more skilled and proficient in our playing. Since my friend’s desire was that I didn’t hurt so much, he would have expressed it more clearly by desiring me to “feel [pain] worse.”

No wonder English is so hard for people to learn as a second language. It has much that doesn’t make sense and has nearly as many exceptions as rules. My favorite is

I before E

Except after C

Or when sounding like A

As in neighbor or weigh

Or whenever it damn well feels like it.

(Technically the last line doesn’t belong, but I add it in ’cause it’s true!)

I found I never really understood English until after I had taken a foreign language for a while (Greek in my case). It was only after seeing how a sensible language worked that I was able to work my way through the morass of foibles that makes up my common tongue (I often claim English to be my second language, but I hardly speak gibberish anymore).

So, it seems highly unlikely that the movie quote request is for Stallone’s character to act as a source of oil, water, or natural gas as the words might suggest.

Although there IS a Taco Bell in the movie, so maybe the gas…


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