Columns » Words

Words

by and

comment

I’ll bet he’d rather be called classy than late for dinner:

“What’s the word used most often to describe Stan Heath, the now-fired Arkansas basketball coach? Classy? No, that’s a term used only by the vulgar. As in Class Act and other Guys-and-Dolls phrases that say less about what’s being described than the limits of whoever’s doing the describing.”

Editorial writers are usually irritable — that’s how they get into editorial writing — and often, as is the case here, they’re irritable about things that nobody else objects to, or has even noticed. Has anyone else ever taken offense at the perceived vulgarity of classy? If so, it’s escaped my attention. (Not hard to do, admittedly. A tornado could sneak by me.)

Random House says that classy is “informal,” which is not the same as “vulgar,” and defines it as “of high class, rank or grade; stylish; admirably smart; elegant.” That doesn’t sound like something Stan Heath could sue over.

Personally, I’m offended by the writer’s snide reference to “Guys and Dolls,” a wonderful musical by Frank Loesser based on wonderful stories by Damon Runyon. Loesser and Runyon were among the best at what they did. True class.

Was Eddie Cantor vulgar? Hardly. Yet in his theme song, “If You Knew Susie,” the beloved entertainer sang “There’s none so classy as this fair lassie, Oh, Oh, Oh my goodness what a chassis.”

Even the editor of the Arkansas Times has used classy (to describe the Little Rock marathon) and that refined gentleman brooks no vulgarity. “Anybody who uses vulgarity around here will get his a** kicked,” he’s said more than once.

And what of Joe Kleine, the esteemed former Razorback and NBA basketball player who’s now an assistant coach at UALR? Kleine has said of a current NBA player, “When you mention Derek Fisher’s name you know there is nothing to worry about. Anybody who has come in contact with him thinks class.”

Joe Kleine is a large fellow. So is the editor of the Times. That editorial writer might want to issue an apology before the two come around to explain his error. In a classy sort of way, of course.

Add a comment

Clicky