As imperative sentences go, this one gets your attention.
The yard sign surveys the language for a verb of appropriate strength and currency. It settles upon a message that I will coyly introduce as “(Blank) Yur Feelings.”
Before getting to the “blank,” I offer first no suggestion on the misspelling, which I presume to be intentional. “Your” is not a word that usually slugs it out for creative interpretation. As shorthand, it barely registers as worth the effort.
Since neither of the other words has an altered spelling, it appears unlikely an invention of slang has been employed.
But this remains a sideshow. The command triggers us, the provocateur intending this.
Let’s weigh the blank.
The sign could read “Embrace Yur Feelings,” a sort of self-help doctrine, just New Age enough to warrant an Enya soundtrack.
Or it could read “Ignore Yur Feelings,” an anthem on behalf of stoicism. These adherents could be perfectly comfortable with holding one palm over a lighted candle for a distressing amount of time.
Maybe, the sign reads “Feel Yur Feelings,” a legitimate directive, no doubt, but more likely a bit of repetitive gibberish.
Forgive this unbecoming suspense. If you read the news story in this paper last week, you know why the blank substitutes in this family publication for the word seen on the actual sign.
Yes, it’s that word, the one of sexual obscenity, the one whose repeated use gives movies their “R” ratings.
It stands in the front yard of a house in a residential neighborhood in St. Joseph, not far from an elementary school. As of Thursday afternoon, it still presented passersby with its coarse ethos.
The scene feels incongruent, the neatly tended yard and home with this message out front. The front porch has its autumn decorations in place, and except for the warning about a smutty disregard for feelings, the place looks ready for Halloweeners later this month.
It can’t go without mention the assignment of politics to this sign. Within an easy photo frame, another sign and a flag, both supporting a presidential candidate, help make a neat triangle with the indecent tidings.
Make a game of this, and think of betting something of importance. Say, the deed to your house. With that on the line, which presidential candidate do you think has his name abutting the “(Blank) Yur Feelings” sign?
I wager no one loses their home.
Why the assault on feelings? With only three words to dissect — well, one vulgarism, one coinage and one word — the onslaught appears a little light on context.
Perhaps the “feelings” had been hurt in some earlier incident. Perhaps the independent spirit of Americans leaves no space for “feelings,” an anchor on all ambitions, a drain on all dreams.
“It’s not personal, it’s business,” the gangland sorts say in the movies just before someone gets deposited in swampy ground. Shouldn’t we aim higher than that, make for ourselves a more exalted goal?
“(Blank) Yur Feelings” is not exactly Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America.” The message lacks the nuance of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
Even William McKinley’s “Let Well Enough Alone” had a sort of resigned gloating to it. Leon Czołgosz, his assassin, apparently felt otherwise.
A couple of blocks from the “Feelings” sign, a different set of feelings got expressed. Two yard signs on one street carried this message: “Jesus Is Our Hope.”
Pandemic-strained, campaign-fatigued, sign-weary souls can use all the hope they can get. That measure of optimism counts for something.
You can take that to “yur” bank.