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Holten: Finished before you start

Want to be a loser? It’s real easy. All you have to do is say one word.

It’s a magical word. Say it enough times and it will make sure that you’re on a losing team, in a rut, amongst no friends, alone at Christmas and loved only by a big dog that has little choice anyway since you fill his bowl.

Say it to someone if you want them to frown, scowl, raise their blood pressure and think your IQ is low. Say it to someone if you want them to avoid you, not answer their phone, forget to invite you to parties, speak little of you and not listen to your suggestions.

Kevin Holten

Mr. Dictionary has no definition for it. Mrs. Thesaurus has no synonyms to match it. What does that tell you?

Yet I hear it often and ignore it each time.

Its parents are futile and impossible, its sisters are hopeless, impractical and inaccessible, its brother is inconceivable and its cousins are insurmountable, no way, not a prayer, and out of the question.

Of course it’s the grandson of preposterous and the great-grandson of unobtainable.

Meanwhile, its son’s name is useless and together they are a real popular and uplifting family. Use the word and you’ll need to drag them all along everywhere you go.

Someone said it to me at a meeting this weekend and it showed a lack of insight, intelligence, foresight and imagination.

To me, using the word is on equal grounds with abusing a child, a wife, illegally dumping radioactive waste and not washing your hands after using the restroom. In fact, using it is as stylish as smoking, shag carpeting, leisure suits and plaid poly pants.

I hate it worse than slimy lutefisk, spit, puke, a girl who kisses her dog on the lips and anyone who acts arrogant just because they tuck fire retardant jeans into the tops of their boots.

Come to think of it, maybe it is an IQ test? Simply count the number of times someone says it in an afternoon, subtract 10 points each time and you have your score.

Had Noah said it, he’d have never built the ark, Abe Lincoln would have remained a gangly lawyer, you wouldn’t know Lawrence Welk or Roger Maris from a plumber in Yonkers, Phil Jackson might still be in Williston, Neil Armstrong’s view of the moon would’ve been no better than yours and mine and ET would still be phoning home.

People who use it should be banned from committees or meetings, coaching any sport, visiting someone in a hospital, giving a sermon, entering a coffee shop or talking to a child or any adult for that matter.

It causes depression, derision, dejection, desperation, despondency and disconsolation. It also causes discouragement, dispiritedness, distress, dolefulness, downheartedness, dreariness, dullness, gloom and doom. No word deserves to be able to do that.

We should ban it from use, burn it like Nazi’s burn books, shoot it into a black hole or put it on the next rover to Mars.

Who knows how many lives and good times it has ruined, ideas it has squelched, projects it has stopped and trains it has derailed.

The word I am talking about is “can’t” as in cannot, couldn’t, won’t and wouldn’t; a dead end, a blind curve, a cliff at the end of a dirt road; like someone giving you a resounding “no” without explanation.

It’s the favorite word of The Defeatist’s Association of America because it lets them off the hook, relieves any pressure, reduces the workload and risk and explains anything that might possibly have “gone wrong” in nearly every situation. They invented the word, bathed and diapered it, nurtured it and continue to give it support.

This word proves that Henry Ford, the creator of the Ford Motor Company was right when he said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” So make the choice and good luck. You might need it.

Holten is the manager of The Drill and writes a weekly column for The Dickinson Press. Email him at