Sh*t-Faced: You’re Doin’ It Wrong


Is nothing sacred?

Can’t we get faced without Slate magazine resurrecting the overrated hippie hackery of NAMBLA enthusiast Allen Ginsberg?

The answer is no.

Dear Editors of the Oxford English Dictionary,

In my more hopeful moments, I like to think that drunken frat brothers everywhere are quoting Beat poetry to each other. It would be a fine vindication of our educational system. And it seems to be the implication of the definition of sh*t-faced—which, along with the other sh*t compound words, lives in the OED between shish-kebab and shiv.

Right now you attribute the term’s first use to Allen Ginsberg:

sh*t-faced, adj. orig. U.S. (a) contemptible; ugly…. (b) intoxicated with alcohol or drugs; spec. extremely drunk. 1961 A. GINSBERG, Empty Mirror 19 “Why, you *sh*t-faced fool!”

It’s a satisfying usage, but 1961 seems a bit late to me.

And on it goes.

Like the overwhelming majority of Australian drinkers, Slate writer Paul Collins doesn’t get the whole sh*t-faced thing. Screw sloshed coeds reciting Ginsberg. Why do people find this so difficult? Getting sh*t-faced is about getting drunk. Maybe taking a few tilty-headed, shiny faced photos with your friends and escaping a guy named Yuengling in a hotel getaway elevator. (Just me?) Must armchair linguists like Collins defile this simple pleasure by plumbing the etymological depths of “sh*t-faced”?

Leave sh*t-faced alone. And please note, there will be hell to pay–Hell. To. Pay.–if you try to trace the first usage of sinkbeer to Jack Kerouac.

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