A Word To Use Next Time You Get a Chance

I learned a lovely word today: MacGuffin. A MacGuffin is an irrelevant interest grabber — a story whose purpose is to draw attention to itself and away from something else.

It comes from a plot device invented by Alfred Hitchcock. He borrowed it from a shaggy-dog story that goes something like this:

A couple, riding in an English train, notice a tall man carrying a large, odd-looking package. They ask him what it contains. Instead of telling them to mind their own business, he says, “A MacGuffin.”

“What is that?” they ask.

“It’s used to catch tigers in the Scottish Highlands,” he replies.

“But there are no tigers in the Highlands,” they say.

“Well then,” he says, shrugging his shoulders, “it must not be a MacGuffin.”

End of conversation.

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[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]