So you get out of a business meeting in which your new colleague, a smarmy
young lad with a freshly minted MBA and an Armani suit that he probably bought
on credit, has just ingratiated himself to your boss while treating you like
What do you say to your buddies over lunch?
"That new guy sure thinks he's hot shit": nope, too Road House.
"He must think his shit doesn't stink": not clever, and a little gross
for table talk.
"That guy thinks he's the bee's knees": c'mon, you're not 12.
"Does he think he's the cat's pajamas or what?": Say that with a straight
face and get ready to be hazed.
It's all just so boring and unoriginal.
If you were speaking French, however, you could lay this one on him:
"Il pète plus haut que son cul, ce type."
Quite literally, "he farts higher than his asshole, this guy."
How brilliant is that?
What's more, in a French context it's not nearly as vulgar as we uptight
Americans might be inclined to think: in fact, the phrase appeared in
the title of a 2008 blog post published by mainstream left-center news
outlet Libération...in reference,
incidentally, to Barak Obama.
(While I don't really know what to make of that, the author also refers to
President Dubya as Bush le Très Petit, which makes him OK in my
Historically speaking, it seems that this elegant turn of phrase has been
around awhile: most phrase dictionaries suggest that the expression dates to at
least the era of Louis XIV, with different variants reflecting
changing linguistic norms and, of course, differing degrees of acceptable
vulgarity. Some sources deliciously suggest that the phrase is often followed
by "et se faire un trou dans le dos," which adds the idea of creating
an additional orifice somewhere upon ones back for expelling intestinal gas in
a more dignified manner.
I've not yet heard anybody say that, but I will be listening.