Berger’s Burg: Revisit the insults of high-profile celebrities

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For this column, I am letting a few readers have their say. My previous columns elicited strong reader reaction, but this one, printed many months ago, generated one of the strongest responses of any I wrote. So for those readers who requested it again, regular readers who may have missed it and new readers, join me as I revisit, with slight modifications, my "insults" column of Feb. 2, 2006. Enjoy!

Hillary to Rudy: You know I never liked you and I always will.

When I was a child, I lived on the lower East Side of Manhattan, a tight community with a multi-ethnic population. Although I was not able to speak any of the diverse languages spoken there, I discovered as I grew older that some of the foreign words uttered by residents were certainly not love odes to a sweetheart.

Rudy to Hillary: You're not yourself today, and I noticed the improvement.

I vividly remember running to my father with the first Italian words I ever learned. They sounded something like "I found gold." I later discovered what the sound-alike words meant in Italian and they left my vocabulary forever. I also remember my mother's words during periods of stress, and there were many (the family's dire financial straits, the strain of raising eight children, etc.). Mom was usually a kindly, prim and proper lady, but, on occasion, she would mumble something phonetically similar to "a finster klippity klopen en dray-et." Since I never learned Yiddish, I still do not know what that meant, but I doubt it was "please pass the butter."

Reader to me: I understand you used to be funny. Me to Reader: (Censored).

I was always intrigued by these devilish remarks that escape intuitively from the mouths of people during periods of exasperation. And I saved many of the zingers I heard and use them in my adult life. I would wait for the appropriate time to spring them on an unfortunate and, wham, I let go and it feels so good.... So, a cautionary warning to all: Think twice, world, or get your ears burned by this master of malediction.

Rosie to Donald: You are filled with the juices of life prune juice!

I am itching to use a few ripostes in my vast repertoire on scoundrels who fail to treat me right. These are plums waiting in the on-deck circle: "May you inherit three ship loads of gold and it still will not be enough to pay your doctor bills," "May they name something after you: a disease" and "If you were as tall as you are stupid, you would have to sleep in a bowling alley." But, I might add, I must not forget not to use them on people larger than myself. It may be detrimental to my health.

Donald to Rosie: I think the world of you, and you know the shape the world is in now!

Cursing and name-calling have existed since time immemorial in all cultures. And, curiously, the cleverest insults appear to be of Yiddish origin: "May you look like an onion with your head in the ground and your feet in the air." Interestingly, Italian barbs are second: "May your blood turn to whiskey so that a thousand bedbugs get drunk and dance the tarantella in your belly button." The Hungarians and Polish are also experts in this field because they themselves have borne the brunt of insults for so many years.

Ann Coulter to Jeanine Garofalo: Whenever you walk into a room, people give you a cringing ovation.

A witty insult of a West African tribe is "You smell like the armpits of an elephant." Other international pearls of rancor are "May you have the nicest neighbors in Siberia" (Russia), "May you be turned into a chicken and the soup made from your bones be used to cure your worst enemy" (Albania) and "May your clock run slow, your heart run fast, your bile run over, your wife run away and your nose run forever" (the U.N.).

Jeanine Garofalo to Ann Coulter: You leave a bad taste in people's eyes.

The poorest cursers seem to be the Americans. We (not including me) usually fall back on the same few obscenities. Boring! Don't be crude, fellow-Americans, just be rude.

In conclusion, whenever you get into an insulting phase, you cannot go wrong by venting the following nugget: "I wish you everything you wish me, and everything you will wish you wished me, after I have wished you everything I wish you." You will feel much better in the morning.

Wait, I have more: "If you were alive, you'd be a very sick person," "If I had your mind, I'd...."

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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