My dad, as a teen, hit a skunk at night while driving his father’s car past curfew. When he got home and climbed out of the Pontiac, the skunk smell was strong. He smelled of skunk. There was no chance of slipping unnoticed into the house. His father would ask questions.
This is not good, he thought. This is not good.
I’ve had that same thought, said the same thing when something went wrong.
This is not good.
We don’t say, this is bad, which is odd.
This is bad is shorter. Precise and to the point.
The opposite of not good is bad.
But this is bad somehow sounds worse than this is not good.
This is bad is clearly bad.
This is not good subtly leaves open possibilities other than bad.
This is not good is maybe…OK? Permissible? Forgivable?
Not good interrupts a definitive and final conclusion of bad.
It gives wiggle room; buys time; offers hope.
Fuzzy logic? Probably. But it works for rice cookers and my dad, so it’s good enough for me.
How’d my dad’s story with his father end? I’ve no idea.
I just know he survived.
I wrote a version of this in July 2019. This is similar, but I’m exploring style, voice and layout, so this reflects changes. If you read both and like one better than another, I’d love to know which one you like better and why. Me? I’m of two minds about it. Thanks :-).