“…anyone who wants to relieve himself…”

The sentence from which this phrase comes was written in an essay on that co-op farm in New Haven. This student was recommending that a compromise be drawn between the city developers and the members of the farm, a plan that would permit development on the surrounding acres but leave the farm intact. Thus co-op members could still put in their two-hours-a-week work obligations and also still enjoy the companionship, exercise, and pride that were collateral benefits of the project. And people working in the adjoining stores, labs, and other establishments would also have a nice place to stroll.

Here’s how he explained his resolution:

“The farm will always be there for anyone returning from work who wants to relieve himself at the end of the day.”

Oh, dear, WORD CHOICE! “Relieve his tensions” might have worked; “relax” would have been better; “escape the stresses of his day” could be a nice way of putting it; “find relief” seems extreme but also would be okay.

But to mention someone “relieving himself,” a phrase with a rather specific NON-spiritual meaning, conjures up relaxation of a whole different kind; and to mention someone relieving himself on a farm makes the reader wonder just how organic this farming is meant to be. People in business suits squatting among the beans…

Manure is all well and good; but the corporate world should have the grace to keep its shit to itself, I’d say.

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About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

One response to ““…anyone who wants to relieve himself…”

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