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I got a real, honest-to-goodness, paying voice-over job yesterday. It was awesome. I was in and out of the joint in ten minutes. It was, without a doubt, the easiest money I’ve ever made. I like this voice-over thing!

The V/O was for HIT Entertainment’s DVD Auto-Play feature, which begins playing the DVD automatically after a short interval (and after my short announcement). I had to record two versions of the announcement, both of which ended with a single-word sentence: “Enjoy.”

I think I did a good job, and was very professional. But I had trouble on that last word. Mentally. A tiny flag went off in my head each time I came to that word. But I read it anyway, and in the most tranquil tone possible. Yes, folkarinos, it seems I’ve become part of a recent trend that has been growing in obnoxiousness in recent years. It’s the Enjoy Entreaty.

Just take a listen as you go about your life. Purchasing a yummy chicken sandwich at Wendy’s? Listen for the cashier to say “Enjoy” as she gives you your food. Acquiring a small souvenir for yourself at a little gift shop in the lobby of some touristy hotel in a vacation paradise? Notice how the smiling lady in the trifocals and the flower print shirt tells you to “Enjoy.” Buying a tiny plastic jar of chemical glop to apply to your hair for the perfect coif? Witness the purveyor urging you to “Enjoy” your new hair goop.

It seems that no matter what you go to do these days, someone is inviting you to Enjoy. They are doling out the Enjoy Entreaty. But why? How did this come to be so prevalent? Is corporate marketing to blame? Did it start with some new mandatory guideline at some mass market chain somewhere that required salespeople to say “Enjoy” to each and every customer? Or is it some kind of personal choice, where each individual salesclerk and serviceperson has decided that “Enjoy” is rather pleasant and wants to pass the delight on to others?

There’s nothing wrong with being told to Enjoy something. On the surface, and used sparingly, the word Enjoy is infused with positive vibes. It’s a comfy, cozy word. The key, though, is that “sparingly” part. When I am being hit with Enjoy at nearly every purchase, the word moves from the kingdom of Pleasantry to the dictatorship of Annoyance.

Perhaps the issue is that Enjoy is being used improperly. Really, when I purchase a movie ticket, should I be told to Enjoy? “Enjoy the movie,” yes, but just simply “Enjoy”? When I’m being handed my bag full of brand new cargo shorts, is it truly the correct suggestion? “Enjoy?” When I listen to the podcast of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! every week, should I be urged to “Enjoy” at the end of every cut-and-paste intro?

Here’s when Enjoy should be used. It should be used for food. Treats, preferably. Enjoying food is an accepted part of our lexicon. Boy, I Enjoyed that steak. Boy, did I Enjoy that marshmallow sundae. Did you Enjoy that homemade, oven-hot chocolate chip cookie? Boy, I sure did!

Beyond food, Enjoy needs qualifiers. Certainly, one can Enjoy a vacation. But the ticket lady at the garishly lit airline check-in counter should invoke the word in a phrase such as “Enjoy your flight!” or “Enjoy your trip!” She should never just say, “Enjoy.” Enjoy what? The trip? The ticket sleeve? The soon to be tedious immersion into ineffective security protocol? You may find the fit and comfort of your new clogs to be Enjoyable, but the clerk at Shoe Boot Shoe Shoe Boot Shoe should not say, nakedly, “Enjoy.” He should say, “Enjoy your new clogs!” The policewoman who so kindly pulled you over for speeding, thus sparing society an assuredly damaging and expensive accident, must take it upon herself to say, “Enjoy this financial deterrent to future misbehavior,” because a simple suggestion to “Enjoy” would exude a hint of smugness and righteousness.

My life is being made less Enjoyable by being constantly reminded to Enjoy the things I have myself sought out to Enjoy. “Enjoy” is so innocuous, so benign, so friendly, that to have it consistently misused and unwarrantedly thrust upon us is akin to a small child who, though adorable for a few minutes, becomes a nuisance when he simply will not turn around in his seat and stop staring at you while you Enjoy your Fatburger.

And so I take it upon myself to give you this apology. The voice-over that you may soon begin hearing before your new Barney, Bob the Builder, or Angelina Ballerina DVD bursts into spontaneous playing will invite you to “Enjoy.” It’s unfortunate and wrong. Am I telling you to Enjoy the video? To Enjoy the bonus features? To Enjoy the actual auto-play feature itself, movie be damned? What the hell does Enjoy mean at the end of the auto-play announcement? Nothing. It means nothing. So I’m sorry for being a part of the problem. I’m sorry I have been a party to the Enjoy Entreaty.

Well, I certainly am glad I got that off my chest. Thank you for listening, and have a nice day.


John Expounded Thusly:

I am impressed that you got a voiceover job. One thing leads to another, and in a couple of years Steve will be living in the hills, inviting hot studs to his backyard compound, living the good life and laughing at everyone in the flats as he considers how best to intone, “In a world …”

Congrats, Steve … and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006 • 10:50pm • Permalink

Steve, Enjoying Life, Expounded Thusly:

Thank you for the kind words, Mr. John. In a world where one man defies expectation, now, more than ever, truth wears a new face.

Anyway, following the little diatribe above about the overuse of the word Enjoy, I want to add two things I experienced tonight.

1) Behind me, at one of those temporary, wheeled snack bar thingies at Walt Disney Concert Hall, I heard the proprietress tell a customer who had just bought something after I bought something to “Enjoy.” Too bad she didn’t say it to me. Her face might have been the victim of an outburst of laughter from my mouth.

2) Just tonight, after 10 months of not reading it because, back in 2005, it made me angry and tonight, as the Democrats pull off an impressive showing by winning back the House and, maybe, the Senate, I decided I had healed enough to pick it back up, I picked back up Al Franken’s “The Truth (with Jokes)” and started from where I’d left off. Wouldn’t you know it, but only three pages in, toward the beginning of Chapter 4, on page 69, Al says, “This chapter is both a sword and shield. Enjoy.” Now, Al saying “Enjoy” is fine with me because it fits in with his sense of smarm, and were I to ask him, I’m sure he’d say he chose to say “Enjoy” on purpose because it was amusing to do so.

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006 • 11:43pm • Permalink

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