In the home I grew up in, wordplay (emphasis on punnery) was the primary form of communication.
At some point, at the age of oh, maybe fifteen, it suddenly dawned on me that other people, ones who are not related to me, have conversations over dinner. Weird, right?
Why would you… what is it exactly… talk to each other when you could be playing the best and only game?
When you could be engaged in zippy exchanges, delightedly outdoing each other with hilarious and preposterous playing-with-words. Interspersed, of course, with long periods of silence during which everyone is trying to think of A REALLY GOOD ONE.
Anyway, that kind of explains a lot about a lot.
Aside: I do actually understand now about conversations and why people have them!
But the reason I’m bringing this up is: Herbert Hoover.
Herbert ****ing Hoover, people.
Herbert Hoover is how we would call an end to the wordplay.
Maybe because otherwise no one can ever go to bed because oh god you want so badly to think up just one more good one.
Or maybe there are no more good ones. You’ve already deteriorated into the most awful of the awful puns, the ones that don’t even work. But you still can’t stop.
Or you’re not in the mood, you’re running out of gas. So you Herbert Hoover it.
You could just say it: HERBERT HOOVER! Or you’d work a reference — something-something, the 31st President of the United States… into the game itself.
To Herbert Hoover something was to end the game. Boom. I just Herbert Hoovered this.
My brother and I still do this all time. We Herbert Hoover whatever needs to end.
This is what is missing from my life right now.
Not the puns. I make puns all the time. With the First Mate and at Rally and with my playmate and inside my head.
But the Herbert-Hoovering. The quick way to end something that is dragging on.
Okay. One thing I know (from experience and because the Book of Me has endless notes about this) is that spending more than about three minutes on facebook/twitter/instagram/whatever will drive me mad.
And even then I can only look at very specific things.
Or: I know to NEVER read any comments written anywhere on the internet, except for here because people here are amazing, and also because I have gotten way better over the years at clearly stating what I want.
But I forget these things.
I want a Herbert Hoover button.
Not a pin! A button.
I want a Herbert Hoover button at the end of everything I read on the internet.
That is only visible to me, I guess? I don’t know. Just a little reminder:
Hey sweetie. Guess what, my love? You read this thing and now you can be done. You do not have to read the responses or the next thing or the rest of the things. The internet will always be there. And you will feel better if you stop now.
A reminder in secret agent code. Herbert Hoover = hidden permission slip to just stop.
And I want a Herbert Hoover button at the end of every New Yorker article so that I remember that I don’t actually have to read the whole thing.
I want a Herbert Hoover button for other things too. For skype conversations. For regrets. For old sick relationships. For projections and narratives about things that are not true.
I want to Herbert Hoover everything that is long-done, and to be able to let the act of ending — at least sometimes — be that simple:
Herbert Hoover. I said it. It’s done.
What would that be like?
Ending all the endings.
So now I am breaking my own rule about not writing conclusions. Because I just realized something important about Herbert Hoover that will not surprise you at all. Namely that this wish, for me, is — like everything else here — about play.
About using words (or anything you want!) to transform space, to change experience.
That’s what I’m playing with.
Invocation. Incantation. Truth. Herbert Hoover.
Play with me? The collective commenting blanket fort.
Today I am going to pretend that there are actual Herbert Hoover buttons everywhere and I will say Herbert Hoover all day, to ritualize endings and transitions.
I am receptive to: other people playing with me and going around Herbert Hoovering things by saying Herbert Hoover! Ending endings and closing doors. Let us joyfully and gleefully declare Herbert Hoover just because.
Obviously, because we respect other people’s space and their experience as sovereign beings, we can’t end things for other people. We are Herbert Hoovering things for ourselves.
And, you might find that some things might not want to be Herbert Hoovered. Possibly because they aren’t ready to be done — maybe something is still processing or percolating. But you can try saying Herbert Hoover anyway, just to see what it sparks for you.
As always, we practice. We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. It’s a process.
The end. I mean: HERBERT HOOVER!
p.s. If you are getting ready to Herbert Hoover 2012, as I am, I will point you to the hidden-delights-filled 2013 Playground calendar from the new Gwish Kit. Ohmygod ohmygod. I wonder if I can get my designer to put a tiny Herbert-Hoover reference in December. What do you think?