from "How to Crush Annoying Persons: An Overview" in the book The Perfect Insult for Every Occasion, Lady Snark's Guide to Common Discourtesy.
Your grades have just come in the mail and Chad, your English 101 professor, has given you a D. This comes as a surprise to you because you have just spent the last fifteen weeks sleeping with Chad for the very purpose of avoiding that outcome. At first, you think this is a mistake, but Chad now refuses to take your phone calls and it is becoming apparent that he has played you. As a result, you decide that you will pay him a visit to express your feelings.
"What a card! What a kick! We heart Miss Snark."
-Sharon Steele, The Boston Phoenix
Let us examine six possible remarks that may have occurred to you on your way here from the dorm and analyze each for style and effectiveness. Given your level of scholarship, I apologize in advance if this section’s resemblance to a multiple choice quiz makes you break out in hives.
Number 1: I hope you die, crudball!
This is certainly appropriate for your social status as a college student; no one would think less of you for being direct. However, in this situation, it will not work. English instructors hear this insult so often when grades come out that it barely registers.
Number 2. Marble hearted fiend! Most villainous knave! Spotted snake with double tongue!
This has the benefit of taking your audience into account. Even though his specialization was the Naturalist Movement, 250 years later, Chad will know these insults are Shakespearian. He may not hear them as insults, however. That’s because what you are really saying is, “Here are some erudite hostilities that I trust you to recognize and understand based on your massive intelligence and comprehensive liberal arts education.”
For this reason, Chad will not be thinking about the meaning of these venomous quotes; rather his brain will be whirring as he tries to remember which plays they came from. “Lear! Othello! And the last one is…uh…A Midsummer Night’s Dream! Ha!! How clever I am.” Note that up to this point, I have been too polite to mention that if you had remembered any of those quotations for the final, you would not be in this situation.
Number 3. Me cago en la leche que mamaste.
How canny of you to think of this incredibly base insult from your semester abroad in high school. And why am I not surprised that all the Spanish you remember from that learning experience is an insult that means “I defecate on the milk that you sucked from your mother’s breast”? Alas, you have misjudged your audience. Chad does not speak Spanish.
Number 4. The length of your dissertation title is inversely proportionate to the size of your manhood!
This is much closer to the mark; the title of Chad’s dissertation was Trail of Tears: Symbolic Handkerchiefs in the Later Novels of Thomas Hardy, Including an Analysis of Meaningful Monograms and Floral Patterns. He is also still smarting that no one wanted to publish it.