I don’t know about you but I’m not sure how much more of this I can tolerate. It’s still September and we have two more months to go in hurricane season and, while it’s just a remote possibility, there’s a chance that we’ll have another hurricane. If this happens, I’ll have to hear every TV anchor and news reporter repeatedly use the phrase “hunker down.” It’s annoying enough when the news media coins a phrase for each big story that comes along and everyone reporting on the story feels obligated to use it, but what makes this phrase particularly annoying is that “hunker down” conjures up images of Rick Sanchez squatting on a relief map of Iraq over a decade ago.
Now, why should all of the fun be reserved for those in the news media? I think we should ALL be free to use their catch-phrases as we see fit. In order to prove my point, I’m going to give you some examples of new ways to use “hunker down” in your everyday speech.
1. Substitute it for another phrase that is close in its pronunciation, as in these examples:
Q: What was the first Electric Light Orchestra song that did not use a string section?
A: That would be “Don’t Hunker Down” from their 1979 album “Discovery”.
Q: What was the name of the 1977 movie and subsequent TV series featuring Lou Ferrigno?
A: “The Incredible Hunker Down.”
2. It can serve as a diversionary tactic when you’re at a loss for words. For example, let’s imagine that you’re at a nice restaurant with a date and she starts talking about the big “W” thing. You know, as in:
Her: “Honey, we been dating since the last election and I’m not getting any younger. I need a commitment from you now! Are you going to vote for George “W” Bush or not?!?”
You: It’s not you, it’s me. I need space to “hunker down”.
3. Use it when you’re at work and you’re afraid that you’ll get slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit if you say something that might be considered “off color”. Let’s imagine you’re standing around the water cooler and a co-worker asks you a question like this:
Q: Hey, Biff, you know, this administration has had so many problems that I’m having trouble remembering what the big scandal was with the previous one. Can you refresh my memory?
Well, if there’s mixed company around, you’re best off responding with something like:
A: You must be referring to Monica Lewinsky “hunkering down” with Bill Clinton. It was in all the papers.
How about if the director of HR asks your opinion about the new job applicants as in this example:
Q: Which candidate do you think we should hire for the job opening?
Go with your instincts and answer accordingly:
A: I think we should hire the young college co-ed. I have a feeling she’ll “hunker down” and be an outstanding asset to the firm.
(You’ll probably STILL get slapped with a lawsuit for that one.)
4. It provides a great way to sound intelligent when people discuss things that you know nothing about. Here are some examples:
Q: How big is the hard drive on your new computer?
A: Oh, it’s got a hunker down of storage!
Q: What size engine is in your new car?
A: Well, I don’t like to brag, but it can really hunker down!
Q: How are the Miami Dolphins doing so far this year?
A: I think Coach Dave Wanndestat should be hunkered down .
Of course there’s always the chance that you’ll use it incorrectly, so here are some tips on when to NOT use the phrase “Hunker Down”:
1. When you knock over a row of Harley Davidson motorcycles while parallel parking in front of a bar in Daytona during bike week – Just don’t use it.
2. When going through a security check point at the airport – If an airport security agent asks you if you’d mind “Stepping over here for a moment”, DO NOT under ANY circumstances use the phrase “hunker down”.
3. When your wife has PMS – Believe me, if you say “hunker down” in any context during this time you are just looking for trouble. You’d be better off saying it to the airport security agent.
In summary, I hope this column has given you some insight into the fun you can have using the same techniques that the news media utilizes in bringing you the news each day. We’ve looked at some potential uses for the phrase “hunker down” as well as some examples of when it should not be used.
If there’s one thought I like to leave you with, it’s this: If I ever hear the phrase “hunker down” again I’m going to be ill.