Good Riddance to Endangered Kudos, Whatever They are:
Kudos used to be as common as Carter’s Little Liver Pills or fur coats in Hollywood. The species was oh so social and ran in packs of indeterminate numbers. Have you ever heard anyone speak of just one lonesome solitary kudo? Or 639 for that matter. They’re plural, that’s all we know about the darn things (when, in fact. they’re NOT; more later).
For example, people sent Elon Musk kudos for sabotaging Rick DeSantis’ presidential announcement when his dysfunctional digital platform crashed. How many Ks Elon received is not clear, naturally. Kudos also recently descended (again, in unspecified numbers) on government “leaders” in Washington for managing to not willfully destroy the U.S. economy in a specious spasm of petulant pique. These plaudits were members of an even rarer subspecies: kudos sarcasticus.
But such appearances are few and far between today. Your chances of seeing kudos in the wild are on par with spotting polar bears in Poughkeepsie. Or a kudu in Katmandu—this large, spiral-horned African bovine is a close relative, orthographically speaking.
Even in diminished numbers, kudos still can be found on all seven continents, wherever vague cliched acclaim is called for.
Even in flush times, kudos were hard to see and have yet to be described by science. In fact, in all recorded history, few people have claimed to have seen kudos, dead or alive. And you won’t find any grainy photographs or poor-quality video online, either, as you will of Sasquatch or the Yeti. This is odd since these nondescript K-varmints often are used as a medium of exchange, like cryptocurrency. Of course, has anyone seen a bitcoin? Some aver they exist (until they don’t).
Species K is most often used as a gratuity for good works, as indicated above. If Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito ever resigned from the U.S. Supreme Court for being totally biased knee jerk nitwits (Ivy League dim bulbs, no less), I would send them all the kudos I could wrangle. A few still exist hereabouts, I’m told, in sad little reserves.
Yes, these cute indescribable mammals (amphibians, perchance reptiles?) were once a more common form of non-traditional exchange. When President Franklin Roosevelt ended Prohibition in 1933, he received countless kudos from a grateful nation: millions of citizens in all of the then 48 states, and U.S. territories, too. The Republicans wanted to launch an investigation but settled for a round of tall cold ones instead.
Before they were persecuted and domesticated by humans, kudos roamed the American heartland in huge herds, like buffalo, minding their own business, not singing anyone’s praises. They could care less if Davy Crockett had “kilt him a bar” when he was only three or “patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell.”
But kudos clearly have long since lost their independence and have become unwilling pawns of homo sapiens. Giving kudos to another human is now like serving a meal of endangered species at Thanksgiving. Yummy, and special, or what!
Kudos became indiscriminate in the last century. They went to Dr. Jonas Salk for saving the world from Polio and to President Dwight David Eisenhower for shooting par on the White House lawn.
If, despite the above intel, kudos are still “Greek” to you, that’s because they are—or to be grammatically correct—is of Greek origin. Yes, despite ending in an “s” kudos is a singular noun. Without a numerical designation in front of the word, like 639, giving kudos means you are bestowing but one endangered specimen on an allegedly praiseworthy person or persons.
So why in the Sam Hill are kudos so scarce if we have just been tossing them about one at a time? There are many theories. Here’s my favorite: there just aren’t that many individuals or entities around deserving of praise lately. Kevin McCarthy and his Republican rabble for playing chicken with our futures? Or Kamala Harris for disappearing into the woodwork? Or all of us Americans, for heaven’s sake, for allowing the 2024 presidential election to come down, in all likelihood, to a contest between a septuagenarian and an octogenarian. Why stop there? How about two centenarians in 2028?
I say let kudos go extinct—to the dustbin of meaningless, la -de-da cliches. No one knows what they are, or is, and few of us have ever spied one in the wild or a zoo. They rarely appear in print anymore. Let this article be their epitaph.
And later on, if we need an idiotic indefinite plaudit, how about kudzu? This virulently invasive Asian vine was first introduced in the United States in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Kudzu to you for getting to the end of this screed!