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Dead Cats Don’t Bounce

As an active participant in the editorial community, I hardly ever run across interesting, complex, brow-furrowing phrases that set me apart professionally.

Every career niche seems to have its own in-crowd phrasing. When I was in advertising, phrases like “what’s the spiff?” or the acronym AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) or “let’s deadhead that one” or “pica pole” or “targeted market” were all buzzwords that set me apart as an in-the-know professional. In fact, although now outdated due to online pagination, I still have two pica poles that are very dear to my heart and collectible relics of the rapidly-changing newspaper industry.

My husband, whose profession involves Internet technology, speaks an entire language I do not understand, but I listen patiently and appear interested even though I have no idea what he is talking about.

This is what a good and dedicated wife does, of course.

Some of his catch-phrases include: “iterative approach” and “waterfall” and “MITA” and “As-Is” or “To-Be” processes, “use case development” and — my absolute favorite — “the red ball of death,” although I suspect he may have made up the last one.

I love the phrase, “red ball of death,” and visualize a red ball on-screen, bouncing over depressing song lyrics, encouraging the participant to dissolve into a puddle of despair. I am trying to figure out where to sprinkle in this delightful, morose phrase amongst the conversationally elite.

Thus far, as a humor columnist, the editorial phrases I have run across include, “query process” (the process whereby a relatively unknown columnist is repeatedly turned down by editors in various publications across the country) and “first right of publication” and “author bio” and various, rather innocuous, everyone-knows-what-it-means phrases. These are uninteresting and stodgy, actually.

Recently, in a random Internet search, I ran across the fascinating phrase, “dead cat bounce.”

Time jerked to a stop for me right then and there. Fascinating visuals and metaphors screamed through my mind. Only those in the industry (I am assuming) can intelligently discuss the dead cat bounce. This would not include me, but as a writer I can claim creative license and sling it all over the place in misplaced and inappropriate connotations.

Upon further Google searching, I found this industry also features wonderful phrases such as: “riding the bear towards the bull,” “surviving bear country,” “dawn raid,” “triple witching,” “witching hours” and “vanilla derivatives.”

The possibilities for protracted double entendre are endless.

I am speaking, of course, of the investment services industry, which for me, and apparently most of America, has always been shrouded in secrecy. Well, no wonder. The phraseology adopted by this industry sounds a bit like a wild ride through a haunted graveyard in Montana.

In my humble opinion, financial planning should be simple and easily translatable: mostly two-syllable, salt-of-the-earth words that mean savings account, retirement account and checking account. This strategy, however, is mystifying to financial analysts trying to help us invest wisely, because they have been indoctrinated in triple witching and dawn raids and bullish tendencies.

Which is why I don’t communicate very well with most of them.

After running across the various phrases described above, I have reinforced my intuitive desire to streamline my assets instead of maxing out my vanilla derivatives by double or triple witching, which, of course is impossible, because the witching hours dictate the actual witching. I have never been overly fond of witches, for the record.

I would be extremely cautious of a dawn raid; in which I may survive bear country, but not actually experience the bear market rally. At no time, now or ever, would I desire to ride the bear towards the bull; and in fact, have no desire to be in the actual presence of a bear or its progeny. Especially if it is running toward a bull.

If my stock options expire at high noon during witching hours, I may be forced to strap on my hedge funds and ride the red ball of

death towards the dead cat bounce. As I understand it, should this activity transpire, I should stay calm, play dead and keep my eyes open for attractive young bulls.

If the investment business does not work out for some of the professionals that actually understand this stuff, then a whole new field awaits them as a writer.

They would have the coolest metaphors of anybody I know

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