I've Been Sheened

by Carolyn Foster Segal

ImageThe “Sunday Styles” Section of The New York Times recently ran a front page story on the evolution of the noun Charlie Sheen into a verb, as in sheened and sheening, meaning, among other things, partying or making bad decisions (Laura M. Holson, “When Your Life Becomes a Verb,” March 6, 2011). Apparently the first cited/sited reference appeared in Urban Dictionary, and more recently posters on Twitter have offered their definitions.

In the meantime, we’ve all been sheened: to be exposed to far too many stories and interviews involving Sheen. A dangerous side effect of this phenomenon may be an uncontrollable desire to turn all names into verbs, as in

To franco is to multitask, then fall asleep in all the wrong places, like classrooms and award-show stages.

To juliachild is to whip up a French dinner for 8, while laughing.

To dickinson is to speak in short, pithy pronouncement that are simultaneously world shattering and obscure. (2) to debate at length over inviting someone to a party. She may baffle the other guests, but in the long run, when she’s far more famous than you, you may regret not having invited her.

To cormacmccarthy is to wake up in a desolate landscape of the future with only 3 bullets, a bungee cord, and a can of peaches. You are alone in the world—except for the band of renegades rapidly approaching. Perhaps the most frightening thing is the way the renegades have combed their hair.

To be faulknered is to wake up in the middle of a long sentence. Since you can never find your way back to the very start of it, you decide to carry on in the tradition of your forebears, who themselves struggled so mightily to reach the end of a paragraph, and, in the midst of your ensuing breakdown, you embark on a long and treacherous new monologue.

ImageTo walker is to curtail collective bargaining rights of public workers. (2) to foolishly underestimate the value of what teachers do.

To beck, or becking, is to make unsupported and indefensible pronouncements. Synonym: to bachmann.

To palin is to parlay cheerleading skills into a dream of someday running a small nation or small political party, made smaller by your palinesque methods.

To king (as in stephen) is to frighten someone out of his/her wits*. To be kinged is very different from being king or even being knighted. To be kinged is to wake up in a strange hotel from the past, a mysterious and confusing place where blood comes out of the bathroom faucets, the bellboy has the disconcerting habit of turning into a skeleton, and the desk clerk looks like a clown.

*Note: to king may involve telling horror stories, becking, or palining.


Carolyn Foster Segal is an essayist and a professor of English at Cedar Crest College, in Allentown, PA, where she teaches creative writing and women's film.

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