The forty and one

20
Apr
2008

Since we are discussing interesting euphemisms, let’s talk about another I came across today.

I am still deep into the Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz. The book is truly amazing, especially Paz’s deconstruction of Mexican machismo (which is arguably and happily on the decline). In and among these descriptions and my subsequent internet research on the subject, I came across a fascinating (and now mostly out of use) euphemism for male homosexuality in Mexico. The number “41” has been equated with homosexuality in Mexico since a raid that took place in 1901 on a party (with 41 participants). Half of the guests were dressed in women’s dresses and were dancing with the other half. Although not so much in use anymore, for many years the number 41 was a highly negative euphemism for homosexuality in Mexico. The taint of the use of the number was so great apparently, that it would be avoided at all costs in the numbering of all manner of things, including hospital rooms, birthdays (men would skip from 40 to 42), public documents, etc.

You’re, um, fat.

19
Apr
2008

Linked from a fascinating Salon.com article about seating comfort (or lack thereof) on airplanes, I was led to a fairly interesting company called Thompson Solutions. They have a line of ergonomic airplane seating, and as I was perusing their “Cozy Suite” subsection called “High Comfort“, I came across this euphemistic gem:

The high comfort seat is particularly suitable for single aisle aircraft. A conventional seat on a Boeing 737 is 17.5″ wide; our seats are 19″. For an A320 a conventional seat is 18.5″; ours is 20″. These are valuable increases given the continued growth in average passenger size (particularly US nationals) and the remaining lifespan of the current generation of aircraft.

emphasis mine.