Sneak Peek at a Polesmoking Biker

Oh, the English language!

— I heard the actor Blair Underwood advertise his new show, The Event, by offering NBC viewers a “sneak peek of The Event.” Is that weird? I always thought we got sneak peeks AT things, not OF them. You certainly don’t peek OF things; you peek AT them. Even if the peek is sneaky, I’d say you’re getting a sneak peek AT the thing. Although if the notion of a “sneak peek” in Hollywood has taken on a life of its own, divorced from its roots as a “peek,” then I guess the preposition is up for grabs—like a preview OF, or a first look AT. I did a basic Google search of the two phrases, and “sneak peek at” had 12,300,000 hits in 0.35 seconds, while “sneak peek of” had 7,280,000 in 0.31 seconds. So they’re both used a lot. But really, “sneak peek of?” Does that sound weird to you?

— First, around 1870, we had “bicycles” and we could go “bicycling.” Then, around 1880, we got “bikes” and we could go “biking.” Over a hundred years later, we still use both words in different situations. Like, you wouldn’t call a guy who tumbles down the side of a mountain on a mountain bike a “cyclist.” He’s a biker. And you wouldn’t call seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong a “biker.” He’s a cyclist. I own a used “bike” with a busted rear wheel, and I definitely go “biking.” But some of the people I “bike” next to in Prospect Park are racing on their lightweight frames, wearing special shoes and mesh jerseys, and they’re definitely “bicycling” on their “bicycles.”

— “Pole smoker” is a funny word. Not just for its meaning [Mom, if you’re reading this, a pole smoker is someone who performs fellatio. And I’m sorry for bringing it up.], but also because it’s a mixed metaphor. Right? One metaphor turns the penis into a pole, and another metaphor turns the act of sucking into smoking. Smoking and poles have nothing to do with each other. The word pulls in two separate directions, and it ends up sounding like nonsense. I like it. Let’s use it more often.

That is all, pole smokers.


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