1. Any chance we can have a “Backpfeifengesicht” tag?

    (“Backpfeifengesicht” is German for “a face that needs to be slapped”)

  2. I think Mallett’s idea was that using the acronym would indicate a fancier type of suit than an ordinary life vest. The evidence does not support this view: the first image in Wikipedia’s PFD article shows simple life rings.

  3. The actual joke, such as it is, seems to be that Kyle’s not so much clumsy as he is prone to freaking out.

  4. While it is true that “PFD” is a generic term used for any type of life jacket/vest/preserver, the ones made for kayakers, paddleboarders, etc. are marketed under the PFD term. The joke here is that five PFDs aren’t any safer than one appropriately sized one, and as dvandom points out, Frazz has more confidence in Kyle than Kyle does.

  5. What does Mae West have to do with any of this? (And I hope you don’t expect me to listen to a whole podcast to try to figure it out.)

  6. I’m not sure I’d say referring to a life vest as a PFD is “pretentious” but if someone refers to them as a “life vest” in a sentence it doesn’t make much sense to refer to them as a PFD in the next. Unless you are correcting them. (which I guess Frazz is doing) which is kind of arrogant and rude to do it in the manner Frazz is doing. (Most boaters I know are pretty picky about proper terminology.)

    Actually it’s kind of amusing that Mallet seems to sincerely believe is smug condescending twit of a main character is admirable and likeable when he so clearly is not.

  7. Sorry, Powers, I didn’t mean to be too obscure, but just remind people who might have known the slangy use of the actress’s name for a lifevest version of the PFD. That was actually what my whole family and neighborhood tended to call those lifevests, despite it being a little improper to explain the basis for the naming with the kids around. (Thanks for noting the gloss, larK.)

    The podcast doesn”t get into that, but is just great biographical storytelling. That episode seems to be from last fall or winter, but it was among a half dozen that showed up in my feed in the last couple weeks, maybe having been re-released as part of “You Must Remember This” joining the Slate podcast group. In any case, I heard it earlier this week, so Mae West the person was a readily available association for me following the explanation of the flotation device acronym.

  8. I’m a geezer so I remember hearing a life vest referred to as a “Mae West” but that was decades ago and even then I think it was in something published before I was born.

  9. MiB: Since I had my slang dictionaries out (for the “boner” discussion, elsethread), I checked “Mae West”. It has citings up through 1990. The dictionary’s copyright is 1997.

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