[PA] = ???

Ok, I may be the dumbest man on earth but I’m probably not alone.  “I ain’t Legend” to play off the title of Will Smith’s new movie.  Anyhow, here’s what I mean.

I was perusing CD listings on Ebay yesterday, and noticed that several of them contained an unusual designation of [PA] in the product title.  But what the hell does [PA] mean?  Pretty Awful?  Probably Acoustic??  Potentially Annoying!?  What did it mean!!?!?  There was no explanation I could find anywhere on Ebay.

What followed was several HOURS worth of searching, on Google, Yahoo, Dogpile – nuthin’.  I rephrased the question everyway I could think of – “What does [PA] mean?”, “CD PA” or just plain “[PA]”.  Still nuthin’.  I was pretty sure it wasn’t any of the most common responses I found – Physician’s Assistant, an abbreviation for the state of Pennsylvania, the chemical symbol for Protactinium or a Japanese suntan UVA rating system.  Well, depending on the artist, that last one might have applied but I digress.

So eventually I gave up and went back to looking up CD’s, this time on BestBuy.com, checking out the upcoming new releases.  Suddenly, there it was again!  [PA]!!  It was stalking me, taunting me that I didn’t understand it’s meaning, that my lower life form was somehow unable to comprehend it’s mysteries.  It’s an evil abbreviation, did I mention that?

PA!  Again PA!!!  Angered at my futility (and the lack of an explanation on Best Buy’s site as well), I picked up the phone and called their customer service line.  Patiently, I made my way through the voice maze, errrr message system until I spoke to a human being.  In a Southern drawl, a young lady asked me what department I wanted.  I started to explain my question, only to be interrupted halfway by a quick “I’ll transfer you” and then the random blipping sounds that accompany high technology as it aims a satellite laser to destroy my exact location. 

Next thing I hear, another Southern woman answers “Sales”.  Well, at least I appeared to still have my call in this hemisphere.  So far, so good.  I proceed for the second time into my question and the response was “Do you have an example of where you see this on the site?”.  Ok, fair enough – she wanted to make sure I wasn’t from the Howard Stern show or something.

I quickly found an example (Cradle of Filth’s Box set of previously released CDs – cunningly titled ‘Cradle of Filth’) and gave the lady it’s SKU number.  S.K.U. – Sanity Killing Uselessness?  Not sure what that meant either, but ONE QUEST AT A TIME!  Anyhow, I hear her click in the numbers and read the product listing back to me – like THIS was the question. 

‘Cradle. . . Cradle. . . Cradle of Filth?’

‘Yes, ma’am’.   Ok, so she’d apparently never heard of them.  Or Hooked on Phonics.

‘See that [PA]’ I went on.  ‘What does it mean?’

Silence.  Uncomfortable silence.  And then clicking, the exact clicking it would take to go to Google and look up the word PA.  I should know, I’d just invested a ton of time doing it myself.

Sounds of her reading to herself.  ‘Physican’s Assistant, no that’s probably not it’ she whispered thinking I couldn’t hear.  Good girl, way to work it all out.

‘Aw, here it is.  Powered Amplifier’ she announced with glee.

Now it was my turn to be silent.  Could she really be serious?  I mean, I know her job isn’t rocket science, but MY GOD!  Suntan lotion was a better guess!

‘Uh, no – I don’t think that’s it’ I replied calmly.

‘Do you want to buy something’ she added, slyly fitting that sales script of hers into the conversation.

‘No’ I said.  ‘I just wanted to know what it meant.  It’s everywhere on your site, with no explanation’.

‘Let me me send you over to the Geek Squad’ she added quickly.  Then, ‘click’.  And that would’ve been ok, ’cause maybe a Geek would know what it meant, except Einstein Twitty on the other end of the phone hadn’t transfered me, she’d hung up on me.

In a last futile gesture, I tried one more destination.  Wikipedia.  There, after much searching (AGAIN) I believe I found the correct definition.  [PA] – as in PARENTAL ADVISORY.  Except that it’s not on every Cradle CD, and believe me, if you listen to Cradle, you know it probably should be.  So I’m not convinced even that explanation is right.

But if so, just how useful is a PARENTAL ADVISORY (and it must be typed in all caps, right?) if you can’t determine that’s what the damn thing is?  How is a more musically naive parent, who happens to shop online, to ascertain the vile imminence of their purchasing decision if they can’t understand the abbreviation??

Shouldn’t it really be PitA?  Pain in the Ass??  I think it should.

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