Things You Don’t Want to Be Called

I recently read a news story in which a person involved in a crime was described as “Known to police.”  That is a phrase you absolutely do not ever want to be used to describe you.

It’s fair to say that, if anything, you want to be quite unknown to police.  Unless you have some non-criminal reason to be famous, you are probably doing a pretty good job of running your affairs if a random cop has no idea who you are.  If on the other hand they’re like “McPherson? That guy again?” you’ve made some poor life choices.  “Known to Police” is just newspaper euphemism for “Career criminal.”

You get a bit of a pass if it means “Famous rock singer who showed his wiener on stage.”

New sources have lots of euphemisms you do not want to go by:

“Of No Fixed Address” – Obviously one does not want to be homeless, but “Of No Fixed Address” sort of implies something more sinister.  You’ll never see a person out of doors with their kids, or living in a shelter, described as being “Of No Fixed Address.”  That’s reserved for someone who doesn’t WANT to be of a fixed address because the authorities will have a harder time finding him if he lives in motels.

“A Person of Interest” – This is a way to say they’re going to arrest you without coming out and saying they’re going to arrest you.  I think they came up with this one to fool criminals who were dumb enough to fall for simple tricks but still smart enough to read; they might think “Hey, they’re interested in me!  They like me!”

“Embattled” – You never, ever, ever want to be “embattled”  Merely having a tough time never gets you called “embattled.”  “Embattled” means you’ve done something horribly wrong and the chickens have come home to roost.  Nobody describes you as “embattled” unless you’re some asshole like Harvey Weinstein who, in case you’re reading this in the future, harassed and assaulted a bunch of women and now he’s “embattled” because the world’s out to get him for it and he’s got it coming.

“Categorically Denied” – If you are on the record as having “categorically denied” something, the odds are pretty good you did it, and soon the proof will be revealed and you’ll shift to being Embattled.

“Gunplay” – You certainly don’t want to ever be in a news story involving “gunplay.”

“Priors” – You don’t want to be described as having “priors.”  This is often why you’re “known to police.”

“Disgruntled” – This wonderful adjective is always used to describe someone who is involved in something very bad, often Gunplay.  You really want to remain gruntled.  Once you’re disgruntled you make the news for all the wrong reasons.  I’m going to get a motivation poster in my office that reads STAY GRUNTLED.

Of course, most of us will never get front page treatment.  Most people only get into the paper when we’re born, married, or die, and maybe not even then.  Birth and marriage announcements always read the same, but a story about how you died, while conveying the same message of “Smith is dead,” can have a lot of variation, and can tell you a lot:

GOOD: “Passed away peacefully in her sleep”

BAD: “Passed away when she was consumed by flames”

GOOD: “While surrounded by his loving family”

BAD: “While surrounded by rampaging polar bears”

GOOD: “From a short illness”

BAD: “From complications stemming from infections caused by the insertion of the bowling pin”


GOOD: “Survived by his wife, children, grandchildren” (etc. etc.)

BAD: “Survived for at least four days by eating his own feet”

What you certainly don’t want is for the story of your death to involve your “remains” being “found.”  A decent death never involves “remains.”  If you die in a hospital and they toss you in a casket and have a party and bury you, you might be referred to as the “body,” but “remains” are what they find in the trunk of an abandoned Buick Le Sabre two months after the biker gang pulled off your arms and left you there.

This shouldn’t be your final resting place.

Then you’re “found.”  You do not want to be “found.”  If you die peacefully surrounded by your family they know exactly where you are.  If you’re “found,” it’s by a jogger, and you will usually be “partially decomposed.”

Don’t be that guy.

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