Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Go Ahead, You Deserve It

I can't say I love the Groupon editorial "voice" (the development and nurturing of which was recently explored in this Atlantic article)--it's a little too self-satisfied and cheeky, even for my sensibilities. But I do like the offers, like the 50% off coupon for one of my favorite local pubs that I greedily seized as soon as it popped into my inbox, or this one for ice-skating sessions at a nearby rink.
Ice is nothing more than water that won't let people swim in it. Such stubbornness deserves comeuppance in the form of sharp metallic blades that merrily crisscross to and fro across the frozen surface. Give ice its just desserts with today's Groupon: for $25, you get a punch-card good for five skate and helmet rentals, five public skate passes, and $10 worth of grill fare (a $65 total value) at Canlan Ice Sports...
I find this miscue interesting*. All careful writers learn to be vigilant about the distinction in spelling between dessert (the after-dinner treat) and desert (the sand-and-camels landscape). But there's another trap here, and the writer of this blurb has become ensnared in it. The term is, in fact, just deserts. In this usage, the word desert is pronounced the same as dessert, but it has nothing to do with toothsome confections. Rather, it derives from Latin (Dessert comes from the French) and it means, appropriately enough, "something that is deserved or merited."

Which means, I suppose, that if you have been exceptionally good, eating just dessert could be your just desert.

*Your results may vary.