A headline over a recent “Dear Abby” column in a newspaper whose copyeditors should know better proclaimed the plight of a troubled young woman thus:
TEEN LONGS FOR BABY TO FILL HOLE
My first thought, naturally, was what sort of hole would be suitably filled by a baby? Is it a hole in the ground, or in a wall, or maybe on a golf course? What size and shape should the baby be? Would the baby go into the hole head or feet first, or possibly lengthwise? Would the baby provide a permanent filling to the hole, or would this be merely a stopgap solution?
You can imagine my surprise when I read the letter from “Lovesick” and discovered that the “hole” was apparently metaphorical and referred to a void in Lovesick’s life after her boyfriend left her.
The unintentionally comical headline, a sort of double entendre sometimes known as a “crash blossom” (for reasons an entire blog was needed to explain last December), is an occupational hazard of newspaper copyeditors, who are rushed to convey the gist of a news article in a prescribed space on a tight deadline while a news editor yells at them, “Where’s that 2-column head for page three?” It’s a wonder there aren’t more crash blossoms, but there are plenty, such as:
SHERIFF PROBED BY PROSECUTOR
2 FOOT DOCTORS JOIN HOSPITAL STAFF
COPS PLEASED BY BIG HEROINE BUST
ACID RAIN LINKED TO EMISSIONS BY WHITE HOUSE AIDE
MAN KILLS HIMSELF, THEN SETS CAR ON FIRE
And now a few embellishments to the above headlines by the Bard of Buffalo Bayou:
TEEN WHO THINKS BABY
CAN FILL HOLE SOUNDS NUTTY—
SHE MIGHT HAVE MORE LUCK
IF SHE TRIED SOME PUTTY!
SHERIFF PROBED BY LAWYER
SAYS HE IS SORE!
2 FOOT DOCTORS
CAN’T REACH THE DOOR!
BIG HEROINE BUST
FINDS COPS AT THEIR PEAKS!
TRACED TO WHITE HOUSE LEAKS!
CHARGES STILL PENDING
AGAINST THE DEAD MAN
WHO DID HIMSELF IN,
THEN TORCHED HIS SEDAN!