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Sun, Feb. 23

Williams: Are you on the level?

I think it’s time for the concept of “level” to go. For years, in business and in business advertising, I’ve heard about taking it to the next level. What’s wrong with the level I’m already comfortable with? I’ve been here for years and have made friends here. I know where the library is here. And the drug store.

If I decided to “take it to the next level,” would I need an airplane ticket, a better attitude (for a higher altitude), a ladder? What if the air is thinner there? Should I take all my prescription medications with me? Will I need my address book so I can alert friends and relatives to my new mailing location?

And, by the way, what is “it”? Is “it” a bouquet of flowers, a pizza, my laundry? Once I find out what “it” is, can I deliver it to the next level and come back home where I belong? Is someone expecting this delivery? Who will pay for my mileage? UPS? FedEx? The United States Postal Service?

And, finally, how do we know “the next level” is a higher one? Often, we hear about bringing someone down to one’s level. Up. Down. Sideways. I’m confused.

And what’s this myth about a “level playing field?” Nothing is level in sports or business, life or terrain. Some basketball teams have taller and faster athletes who can actually shoot foul shots. What’s level about that? A number of years ago the Houston Rockets brought in Yao Ming, a 7’6” center, who led them to the playoffs four times. Was that level? Hell no. If everything competitive were “on the level,” all sports teams would receive championship rings every year.

Now that I think about it, if things had been “level” in1957, I would have gotten a little plastic trophy just for showing up in Little League baseball when I was 11 years old. Instead, that little twig Teddy Johnson and his stupid team won all the trophies and got free ice cream that year. I’m still not over that.

And another thing. How can I be on the level with someone? If the other person is taller than I am, all my words have to travel up hill to be heard. Makes no sense.

How do I level charges against anyone? If I’m lodging legal charges against Edgar Funtz, we’re not very level, are we? He’s standing in hot water and I’m feeling pretty superior because I get to call him out. By the way, Edgar was on Teddy Johnson’s stupid team so I’d love to level charges against that little twit.

I wonder if being “level-headed” is a medical diagnosis? Does it mean one suffers from a stiff neck? A flat cerebellum? Or it is a barbering term meaning wearing a flat top hair cut?

If I try to do my “level best,” does that mean my accomplishments won’t exceed or fall short of all other accomplishments? If I’m noticed for my successes or failures, I’m not level with everyone else, right?

This “level” business has become such a passionate inquiry for me that I don’t have space for a diatribe against those who do anything “outside the envelope”. As far as I can remember, I’ve never done anything inside an envelope. For God’s sake wouldn’t I have noticed something strange about standing around in a paper pouch?

Using nonsensical idioms has gone on long enough, in my opinion. I think’s it long overdue that we take it to the next level and work outside the envelope to clean up our speech habits.

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