“Game changer” has now moved into first place as the most overused expression on the planet, basically replacing “on the planet” which had held onto the title for decades.

Every day we hear about a new cure or law or drug trial, legislative nuance, fiscal windfall, medical, social or municipal breakthrough that “could be a game changer,” a “real game changer” or a “significant game changer.” Sports announcers over-used it and now it’s a go-to for every politician. Even grandmas are using it. But, no, the only real game changer — that really changed the game — was the sweeping emergence of the coronavirus taking over our world, our country, our lives, and the Game of Life.

Everything else is merely wishful thinking. Kind of like an Elvis impersonator standing next to the real thing. When sports announcers talk of game changers, they are speaking of seminal moments that turned the momentum so around as to seal the game in the other direction, right then and there. And while we have heard of many promising trials, vaccines, strategies and hydroxychloroquine, the game is still headed in the same unfortunate direction and will still require months and months of heavy, hard work by tens of thousands of heroes pulling in the same direction to find the vaccine.

Problem is that people want an instant, overnight solution — a real game changer — but in flailing around for that possible instant solution, they are grasping at straws. Magical thinking over science — which postulates that even game changers need buckets of time and effort to work. Our president’s strategy has always been to wish himself to sleep every night for a game changer that would magically make it all go away — without the work of setting a national strategy of testing and contract tracing — or any strategy, including coordinating protective equipment or not sleeping through the onset of the outbreak. That would require work and serious planning and judgment and commitment, not just setting up governors to individually compete against each other and then to take the credit when things worked out — or blame them when they don’t. This is “the new normal,” one of the runner-ups for this year’s title.

And whatever happened to Boston Strong? You remember where everyone in the whole region pulled together, first to catch the Marathon bombers, then to recover, but mostly to send the message to terrorist bombers and foreign enemies that they didn’t have a chance against our unity? That’s what America lacks today. We’re Partisan Weak because we are so easily divisible and mostly so stupid that our Russian and other foreign enemies find it so easy to set us off against each other. Even North Korea hurts us that way, Iran, China — how stupid are we? Joe Biden should just stress America Strong and stop the rush to extremity. If the country lurches left after lurching right, how strong is that?

Second Place? What’s with the word “hoax”? Everything that Trump doesn’t like is a “hoax”: the Mueller report; impeachment; the inspectors general; the whistle blower(s); Ukraine; anything the Democrats think is important; Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer — it’s all a hoax! The sudden pervasiveness of this surprise word is underlined when local small-town folks begin to use the word to you, also too frequently.

My theory on its etymology springs from Superman comic books back in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, a prime garden of Trumpian education and influence.

Remember Mister MXYZPTLK? This was an imp from the ninth dimension who had magic powers come to plague Superman in our Earth’s third dimension. His whole modus operandi was to set up hoaxes — as he called them — to torment the world and by extension, Superman. The stylish, diminutive troublemaker could only be thwarted by tricking him into saying his name backwards which would whisk him to his own dimension (until next time). As he vanished, Mister MXYZPTLK would always cry out “IT’S A HOAX!” A big influence, obviously, on the little Donald at the time.

Let’s keep on hoaxing away, everyone, unless a true game changer comes along, like, say an election?

Then maybe we could put the whole country through a giant car wash, clean up the damage and work on getting cured without a profit motive.

It would be the best hoax on the planet.

Gloucester resident Gordon Baird is an actor and musician, co-founder of Musician magazine and producer of “The Chicken Shack” community access TV show.





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