Sunday in the Park
November 20, 2009
I didn’t write a column for the past two weeks.
So be it.
Did that last sentence annoy the hell out of you? Or did you nod in a kind of reverent acceptance? It annoyed the hell out me just to write it. Lately, it seems the expression has become so ubiquitous, it feels like a cough or a sneeze at the change of seasons. Back in the ’70s, in the groovy little church I went to in Lake Tahoe, we kinda replaced "Amen" with "so be it." We were still having communion and sharing the peace and all that but thought we were really walking on the wild side by saying "so be it." Maybe there were even Wicca references like the power of three and let it be and walking in a circle and turning around three times and then saying "so be it." I really don’t recall. For me, it went of fashion with the tie-dyed prayer shawl.
I have a friend from out of state who uses it instead of "whatever" but delivered with all the conviction of a benediction. As in: I’m not receiving mail everyday any more at the same time so be it. I lost my car keys so be it. My husband ran off with the grocery store clerk so be it.
For me, it kinda has the potential to surpass the whole fingernail-on-the-chalkboard experience. But really, on the long list of things that tip me over, this doesn’t usually even make the list except this past week, when it spit at me repeatedly. First, the aforementioned friend used it no less than six times in a three-minute phone call. Second, on KPCW, someone (not the articulate Leslie or Linda or Ann but an interviewee) used it more than once in a very short news story. And finally, this one really hurt, it came out as a bit of dialogue on what has to be, usually, the smartest show on television, "Mad Men," which is set in the early ’60s.
Disingenuous, was my immediate response.
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I knew with some kind of moral authority that this expression didn’t come into being until the ’70s. Ah, but what a little Internet research can do. It may not have come into My Being until the ’70s but it turns out the expression dates back to a Latin translation. More recently, in terms of centuries, you can reference Herman Melville who used it in "Moby Dick." It may be excruciatingly painful to me but it appears this long-used expression is a new again phenomenon.
My quick search produced more than six million references to the phrase. Six million. I did not look them all up. In fact, less than dozen sources showed me how many groups have adopted this expression. There is a children’s book by the same name, many, many song lyrics where it is included, some erotica literature (that may be a stretch, erotica and literature used together), a magazine called "Tathaaste" which in some language translates to So Be It, graphically, with all the words stacked on top of one another. And So Be It is the unofficial site name to follow Christian Slater.
In February. Governor Schwarzenegger defended his tax raise by saying that, if it violated the GOP’s principles," So be it." In July, Sarah Palin apparently said, "If I die politically, so be it." In September, someone is quoted as saying that if Madoff’s sons go bankrupt, "So be it." Sometime in the past year, Yasmin, a contestant on the Survivor series is quotes as saying, "If speaking my mind gets me thrown off the island, so be it." I found a ring inscribed, "So be it because it blesses what is and aligns you with your higher self."
Slightly abbreviated, SoBe, is the slang name of South Beach, Florida, and of course, SoBe is the name of a beverage line, whose mascot is/are Dancing Lizards. (You remember the Super Bowl commercial.)
There were still more than five million, nine hundred thousand and ninety entries to go.
At that point I was laughing pretty hard. But The Force had the last laugh. I found for me, the penultimate reference:
a Star Wars reference.
Luke Skywalker: "I am Jedi like my father before me.
Moment of silence
Palpatine: "So be it Jedi."
I am left to ponder the wisdom of, well, if not from a galaxy, far, far away, at least from George Lucas. I will light candles this weekend and find quiet and decide how I can, if not embrace an expression that many find comforting, at least find it less annoying. And it I can’t do that on this Sunday in the Park then so be it.
Teri Orr is the director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts and the Big Stars Bright Nights Summer Concert Series at Deer Valley. She is also a former editor of The Park Record.