The expression we’re going to review today is “to cause a stir.” To cause a stir is to cause a bit of a commotion, to cause controversy, to upset or agitate people. You wouldn’t say that to describe something terrible or tragic, but you would say it when people got upset and voiced their displeasure.
The minimalist glass-and-steel entrance to the Renaissance-style Louvre museum caused a stir when it was first revealed by the, ahem, Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei. It caused a stir because it upset people, and they weren’t shy about saying they were upset. Oh, it’s a symbol of death from Egypt, some people said. Oh, it clashes with the existing design, others protested. He’s not even French, some people whispered. The design caused a stir. It’s not a life-and-death issue, right? But it’s important and people have feelings and opinions and the design—well, it caused a stir.
It’s not hard to think of examples—some serious, some frivolous. I’ll give you a few examples, and you can tell me if the issue is serious or frivolous, okay? Here’s a hint: frivolous is like the opposite of serious. Okay, here we go:
Meghan Markle, the dashing Duchess of Sussex, fresh off welcoming a new baby into the world, appeared at the Queen’s birthday party with sleeves that were a different color than her dress. That caused quite a stir among royal-watchers, who noted that the contrasting white sleeves on her navy dress was too flashy for such a conservative event. Serious or frivolous?
Apple announced a series of new products, including a $6,000 Mac Pro desktop, a $5,000 6K monitor—and a $999 stand for the monitor. That’s right—a monitor stand, the thing you’ll use to prop up the monitor, costs almost a thousand dollars. That’s more than the cost of the computer I wrote this episode on! That caused a stir online among people who think Apple gear is insanely expensive. Serious or frivolous?
There’s a new restaurant in Melbourne, Australia. It’s called “Pink.” The entire interior is—you guessed it—pink. The floors, the booths, the lamps, the window shades—all pink. The pizza crust on your pizza contains beetroot to lend it a pinkish hue. The restaurant also aims to raise awareness of women’s mental health. Well. This has caused quite a stir. A prominent food critic in Australia said, “I hate this restaurant already,” before visiting it. Another restauranteur said the place would turn into a circus. Here’s what she said: “Imagine an entire restaurant full to the brim of influencers, all photographing themselves.” It got worse from there—the quote is funny if you want to look it up. Others said that coloring everything pink is sexist. “How is creating a Barbie pink cliche interior going to empower women?” one person asked.
Okay—so, serious or frivolous? If you answered “frivolous” for all of them, then you’re starting to understand what it means to cause a stir. It’s just a minor controversy, nothing life-and-death.
Quote of the week
Today’s episode was about an architect who died. One of my favorite American authors also died recently, also over the age of 100. Herman Wouk wrote about World War II and postwar life in America. So I thought it fitting to grab a quote from him for today—and it’s about coming to the end of your life. The quote comes from the book “Marjorie Morningstar,” which I read years ago. Here it is: "I think it's a bit like coming to the end of a book. The plot's in its thickest, all the characters are in a mess, but you can see that there aren't fifty pages left, and you know that the finish can't be far off."
On that note, we’ll wrap up the program for today. I kind of wish I had seen the Melbourne article earlier so I could have done a whole episode on the restaurant Pink. Oh, well. Hey, if you’d like to get our e-mail updates and extra resources—all for free—just sign up at PlainEnglish.com/mail . And like always, we’ll be back with a new episode on Thursday. Thanks again for being with us and for being the best audience in the world!