Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What did you say?

My PI is quite stern and she prefers to maintain a certain degree of professionalism at all times. This includes the way that she speaks. She doesn't really use curse words and if she does, it is because she is really upset and even then, the words are usually damn, ass and maybe shit.

Because of how my PI is, the lab was completely taken by surprise when she used the phrase "blow your load." None of us were offended or anything, but we were shocked she would use such a phrase, considering what all of us interpret it to mean. I would also like to add that this is not a one time thing. During my stay in her lab, she has used the phrase a few times and I never got the feeling that it slipped out unintentionally. Ultimately, the lab arrived at the hypothesis that she isn't aware of the phrase's meaning simply because she never, ever says anything like that.

Personally, I think if she new what the phrase meant she would not say it. She might even be embarrassed that she had used the phrase, especially in front of men. On the other hand, how could she not know what that phrase means? What else could she think it means? I feel like I should tell her, but I don't know if I could bring myself to do it.

Does anyone have an opinion?

15 comments:

Ambivalent Academic said...

That is so freakin' funny! And mortifying if I imagined myself in her shoes. I had a female prof who gave a lecture to our small class with her fly down. I was sitting in the front (geek!) and it was totally distracting, but I couldn't bring myself to interrupt her lecture in front of 30 students to tell her that her fly was down. Did they also notice? If not, I didn't want to draw attention to it. So I whispered it to her at the end of the lecture. She was so embarrassed and said she would have preferred if someone had just interrupted and said "Hey Dr. P, XYZ!". How cute is that?

You should definitely tell her given the degree of professionalism she normally maintains and the possible weirdness and (albeit unlikely) sexual harassment charges should she it in the presence of an unsuspecting and easily offended male.

As far as how to do it *cringe*...have you seen "The Princess Bride"? You know the scene where the short Sicilian keeps shouting "Inconceivable!" and Andre the Giant finally says "I do not think that word means what you think it means"? This reminds me of that movie (if you haven't seen it, you should)...with any luck, maybe she's seen it and you can bring it up in a somewhat humorous fashion as a segue from a discussion of the film.

Otherwise, you just gotta tell her. In private.

As far as what she actually thinks it means (what else could it really be!?!?!), maybe she is confusing it with a Dr. Isis-esque "lose your junk"?

Ambivalent Academic said...

Just for my further amusement...context please?

EthidiumBromide said...

Maybe she thinks it just means the equivalent of "releasing steam"??? I mean, that's the kind of vulgar language that we would all use in the lab on a daily basis (and teach to the non-native English speakers) and then pack up immediately when the PI comes around the corner... not because he would be upset by it, but because he would require us to explain the meaning. And... yeah. Just like you don't want to explain it to her, we don't want to explain words to him. The latest "language lesson" in our lab -- the other day the other grad student taught the post-docs what a boner was, when she happened to mention that one of her mice seemed to have a permanent boner.

I dunno, someone SHOULD tell her, but if I couldn't imagine being the one to do so, unless you are quite close with her. What an awkward conversation! I would be all for printing out the Urban Dictionary page and anonymously slipping it under her office door when nobody was looking!

Epicanis ( http://www.bigroom.org/wordpress ) said...

I've heard the similar phrase "shot my wad" used in completely innocuous contexts to mean "run out of things to try" or "run out of energy". Assuming the context here was similar it's probably actually okay (if still amusing).

On an only-tangentially-related note, the Annals of Improbable Research used to have a project going to popularize the phrase "blow my|your|his|her|etc coat" (which is evidently the term given to chinchillas having all their hair fall out when they're stressed). i.e. "He was so shocked he practically blew his coat!"

PhizzleDizzle said...

this is hilarious and awkward. i have no good advice to give but i wish you luck. :)

nondiscovery said...

Having heard this particular PI use the phrase, there is no way she knows its origins. Since her demeanor seems to be on the level of a PG-13 movie, it is doubtful she is going to bring out the X-rated material so willy-nilly.

I do think that she should be informed of the meaning of that phrase, but there is no way I am going to do it. Although it is funny to hear her say it around lab, it won't be so funny when she says it in a study section or some other professional setting. Then again, she will definitely get people's attention!

As far as context, she used the phrase in front of me while we were talking about a paper that another group published that seemed to be light on some obvious experiments. She said something like "they didn't want to blow their load all at once."

chall said...

as a non native English.... it does mean something like a male does... when he is ultimately happy ;) with a boner ;)

sorry, I really dont know. But it sounds like she needs to thin ka bit more. Like I learned when talking a new language, never ever ever curse with something you have heard others say if you do not understand the context. not even try. never.

one of the fw times I have been on the verge ofbeing hit by a man... as a 15 year old girl... silly me talking French...

Thomas Joseph said...

You _could_ pull her aside one day and tell her that the understanding of the phrase she is using has changed (not really, but she doesn't need to know that), and that it now means "X".

microbiologist xx said...

AA - You wouldn't believe how much time we have spent talking about this. It is funny and weird at the same time. I am leaning towards telling her, but I will wait until next week when I am leaving the lab, to curb any embarrassment on either side.

EtBr - Teaching a foreign student or post-doc American slang is a blast, and I might even go so far as to say it is our duty. :) I usually insist that they try to use it in a sentence at some point during the next day or week depending on the word in question.
Others in the lab thought sliding the Urban Dictionary print out under the door was a funny and good idea. I know that she would come down and ask who did it, which is way better than using the word sperm, cum or ejaculate in front of her. It seems so silly to be embarrassed about saying this in front of a woman with two kids.
Epicanis - If she used the phrase shot your wad, I don't know if I would be able to control myself from falling on the disgusting lab floor and laughing. That version is so much more gross. On a side note, the blew his coat thing is not gross and kind of cute, and it might be kind of funny to see people try to understand your reference when you use it.
PhD.- Thanks. I am going to need it and maybe a drink if I decide to talk to her.
ND - Thanks for providing some context. I could not remember the conversations I had heard her use that in. All I can remember is the statement itself.
chall - My boss is from the US. On a side note: OMG. What did you say to that man?
TJ - That's not a bad idea either. I had thought of trying the ole.."That phrase has multiple meanings and the most common one is..."

I will try to keep everyone posted on what happens. If I don't chicken out, the conversation or slipping of papers under the door will happen within the next two weeks.

chall said...

xx> well, it wasn't as bad today I'm sure but coming from a [somewhat cocky] 16 year old girl to a 18 year old guy... [who was trying to be cool and pick all the swedish girls up] it was very bad. involved, of course, sexual inplications that he was useless and selftouching.... or some sort of it...

I really, to this day, don't understand how that expression could make him so mad. Then again, I was called a [ho] the other week and turn black eyed and looking for a fight. some things just don't work for some people I guess....

Will e fun to see what you end up doing :) good luck!

Ambivalent Academic said...

Oh please do keep us posted.

This is way more entertaining than the 3rd(!!!) round of requests from editor to resize my figures (again!) bc they can't seem to get their preferred format figured out before asking my to blow my whole day (but not my load or my wad) re-formatting figures so they change their minds again.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

What EtBr said... sounds like the least embarrassing way!

When we had our French exchange partners visiting our school (aged about 13), they asked us for English swear words. We taught them random stuff like "hub caps" and "penguin", which they then took great delight in shouting at random adults on the next trip into town. Oh what fun!

Dr. A said...

hahahaaaa!!1! This thread is hilarious. I almost blew my wad - of dinner out of my mouth when I burst out laughing reading the comment by Epicanis. Blew my coat. Love it.

microbiologist xx said...

cath - OMG! That sounds like wonderful entertainment. I am taking note for the future.

Dr. A - Who knew a post about my poor unsuspecting PI would lead to such hilarity in the comments section. Wad...I am laughing and grossed out at the same time.

Anonymous said...

The phrase refers to muzzle loading rifles and how in the heat of battle as one is reloading, it was common to forget to drop a ball down the barrel before packing the wadding in, hence a wasted load.

I still think you should tell her it has picked up additional meaning...