Thursday, December 14, 2006

High-Fashion Underwear

You know that cozy feeling of sitting by a campfire with a hot cup of chocolate in your hands, feeling the warmth on your face and the cold mountain air at your back? Well, take away the fire and the hot chocolate, and imagine instead that you're teaching a class.

It's gotten a little colder here recently. And the classrooms, like the student dorms, have no heating. Last weekend in Hangzhou (which I will have to post about later, but I understand now how it could claim to be the prettiest city in China), I bought a new coat, perhaps warmer than anything ever owned before, and I've sometimes been wearing it while teaching.

Tonight I went out and bought some long underwear. The attendant assured me that the ones I got are very fashionable, and a very nice color. They come in a fancy box, with schmancy tags.* The biggest size they had is one size too small (the same situation as for slippers), but they're larger than the set I left in California, which must have been bought for me when I was shorter, and then have shrunk. So hopefully I will feel more comfortable when I go out now, but the local paparazzi had better keep their cameras ready for me sporting my high-fashion underwear.

*This was a test: Is this usage of the schmefix ungrammatical? Did you go "Huh?" when you read this sentence?


Anonymous said...

"schmancy" was perfectly understandable to me. It is usually the second word in the adjective phrase "fancy schmancy", but since you had already used "fancy" in the sentence, I think it was appropriate parallelism. (Hey, how do you like THAT for sounding erudite, coming from your MOTHER!)Watch out for your fan base as well as the paparazzi! =)
(from mom)

Mr. Carroll said...

I believe my comprehension moved in an appropriate schmefixagonal direction, corresponding to the cognitive intent of the author.

Erin said...

Como los padres han diciendo, I think the schmefix is acceptable within a couple of words or phrases of its rhyming counterpart.

Damian said...

I have a slightly different take. I think "fancy schmancy" is an anomaly because it doesn't follow the normal shme-fix syntax. In normal circumstances the shme-fix is only used in *response* to another person using the original word, i.e.

A: You're spraying graffiti? What if the principal catches you?

B: Eh, principal, schmincipal - don't be such a worry wart!

True, a single speaker could provide both halves, but usually only by *suggesting* an alternate opinion, such as:

A: My opponent says building a wall will keep out illegal immigrants. I say, wall, schmall -what we need is a comprehensive immigration policy.

In the case of "fancy schmancy," we have an accepted phrase whose origin may have originally come from the shme-fix syntax...

A: This place is fancy!
B: Eh, fancy schmancy - I've seen better,

... but has now become an accepted phrase of its own, so much so that the original meaning has been somewhat subverted.

A: I heard you had a fancy schmancy wedding reception!
B: Yeah, we hired a band and put all the waiters in tuxes. You only get married once, right?

Here, the meaning is still "fancy," it's just been modified so as to make it sound friendlier and perhaps mildly excessive.

Thus, while your usage here is entirely correct, I wouldn't call "fancy schmancy" the best illustration of the intent of the shme-fix.

Anonymous said...

I ditto Damian. Especially since my brain power isn't sufficient tonight to sound half as convincing.

Anonymous said...

wow,cool,is the coat the one that you wear to class this wednesday?i noticed it was not the blue one,wasn't it?

winter here might be slightly different from that in California,but still getting by,if you've been to Peking you will be thankful that you are in the south of china.

take care and keep warm,it's cold winter now and spring wont be far^_^

serapio said...

Yeah, I agree "schmancy" isn't typical of the schmefix. Perhaps it's not even appropriate to think of it as schmefixation. But if I had left out the fancy part, would the schmancy part have worked? Hmm, maybe so. And how did schmancy end up being one of a kind?

And yes, I'm quite happy I'm not spending the winter in Beijing. I came to southern China on purpose.