I presented myself at the Placement Office. I was on file. My percentile was the percentile of choice.

"How come you were headman of only one student organization, George?" the Placement Officer asked. Many hats for top folk was the fashion then.

I said I was rounded, and showed him my slash. From the Fencing Club.

"But you served your country in an overseas post."

"And regard my career plan on neatly typed pages with wide margins."

"Exemplary," the Placement Officer said. "You seem married, mature, malleable, how would you like to affiliate yourself with us here at the old school? We have a spot for a poppycock man, to write the admiral's speeches. Have you ever done poppycock?"

I said no but maybe I could fake it.

"Excellent, excellent," the Placement Officer said. "I see you have grasp. And you can sup at the Faculty Club. And there is a ten-percent discount on tickets for all home games."

The Admiral shook my hand. "You will be a credit to us, George," he said. I wrote poppycock, sometimes cockypap. At four o'clock the faculty hoisted the cocktail flag. We drank daiquiris on each other's sterns. I had equipped myself - a fiberglass runabout, someplace to think. In the stadia of friendly shy new universities we went down the field on Gulf Coast afternoons with gulls, or exciting nights under the tall toothpick lights. The crowd roared. Sylvia roared. Gregory grew.

There was no particular point at which I stopped being promising.

-- Donald Barthelme, from "See the Moon?", collected in Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts (1968)

Poppycock- Also the name of a queasily delicious snack food gauranteed to stick in your teeth for weeks. Created from an amalgamation of popcorn, caramel, and a variety of different nuts. Comes in 4 different varieties, based on what kinds of legumes you prefer. Created by the "fine" people at Lincoln Snacks.

Poppycock means nonsense, but with a subtle connotation not usually mentioned in definitions, namely that its use often suggests willfulness. For instance, a spelling mistake is unlikely to be described as poppycock, but a false or controversial statement could certainly be termed such.

Poppycock, for me at least, conjures up images of outraged, red-faced British ex-officer types, so I was very surprised to learn that it is actually American in origin. Its use comes from Dutch settlers, and is derived from their word pappekak, which means exactly what it sounds like: soft shit.

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