As I arrived at my gym today I was informed by a sign on the front door that said gym will be closed tomorrow for something called “Spring Day.”
Well, isn’t that special? My gym is operated by the City of Tampa. So I assume “Spring Day” is a way to give employees a day off with pay without admitting the closure has anything to do with Good Friday or Easter. (Before you ask, no, the City of Tampa should not be operating a gym. There are plenty of privately operated gyms about to fill this need. But it does and I go there because it’s really cheap — socialism for the middle class — and a pleasing and sociable clientele gather there to sweat.)
Of course, this linguistic fig-leaf doesn’t fool anyone. But by this lame subterfuge city fathers (and mothers) can keep city employees happy without annoying Christians too badly. You surely can’t take a paid holiday away from a government employee. But we wouldn’t want anyone suspecting that the City of Tampa is in any way enabling a congressional “establishment of religion.” Excuse the expression, but, Heaven forbid.
It’s not just in trying to disguise the religious nature of holidays that Tampa abuses the language. Tampa is as enamored of the new, abstract, and imprecise over the old, concrete, and specific as most governments and big businesses today. My gym — and there’s no doubt that it is a gym — what with free weights, resistance machines, treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, a big exercise room — is not called a gym by the City. No, no, no. That’s so 20th Century. What I go to three to five days a week is a fitness and wellness center. This new and silly seven-syllable designation over the old and crystal-clear one-syllable gym doesn’t make the work-outs there any easier. But city officials must think they’ve smartened the place up a bit by coming up with this new, overlong, and pompous name. I mean who, these totally up-do-date folks must think, would to go to a sweaty old gym when they can tune up in a wellness and fitness center?
These linguistic practices aren’t evil or immoral. Perhaps not even in bad taste. But they’re certainly silly.
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