From time to time, current events inadvertently skewer the meaning of nouns that preexisted and have nothing to do with the latest trend. The word “stalk” used to have just one definition as it related only to corn. “Elbowing” someone just meant that you were jabbing them with your elbow. No one confused “elbowing” with “Tebowing” or watched a manic bicyclist along the lakefront and wondered if that person was “Lancing.”
This minute’s word-on-the-tip-of-your tongue is “catfish” or “catfishing.” It is the explanation behind Manti Te’o’s dead-girlfriend-story and relates back to a year-old movie of the same name. Everyone knows the definition of “catfish” by now. It’s been ingrained in us in the show-and-tell fashion practiced by our teachers Deadspin or TMZ.
However, long ago, there was a dynamic Major League pitcher named Jim “Catfish” Hunter. He hurled a perfect game in 1968, won the World Series several times and is a Hall of Famer. Catfish Hunter was not a person who had a second thought in offering his assistance to his team, whether it was the champion Oakland A’s of ’72 to ’74 or Yankees of ’77 and ’78. Nothing about what I learned of the high-faulted use of the instant meaning of “catfish” has shaken my faith in Catfish Hunter one iota.
Catfish Hunter passed away on 9/9/99. Hopefully, “catfishing” will die out before 11/12/13.
By Rob Christiansen