Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Scapegoat or Aspiration Pony

I was talking to a guy, "Ken", who was reminiscing about how much fun he and his friends had in college. I asked what they were doing now and Ken said they'd all settled down and gotten married except for one guy. Then, he went on to say, "Hopefully, he'll never get married." I asked him why and he replied, "So he can keep living the dream for the rest of us." I found it weird that Ken would want his friend to be frozen in time, not aging gracefully or experiencing any other aspects of life besides getting hammered in a bar. I mean, does anyone think the guy in his mid-fifties in the club hitting on girls half his age is cool? I felt bad for the friend because it was obvious that Ken, even though he was happily married with a cool wife, was projecting his aspirations of staying forever young and partying like a twenty year old onto the guy.

I've seen this behavior many time before. For example: When Metallica first changed their sound, my friend "Rob" was very upset. He kept saying, "They sold out, man! They totally sold out!" I asked him what he meant because to me, selling out means giving up your integrity (artistic or otherwise) to make money and be successful. I thought Metallica was probably just bored with doing the same thing year after year and wanted to try something new. But Rob wasn't having it. He wanted them to stay exactly the same band they were when he was thirteen and he felt betrayed that they wanted to change.

Husband and I were discussing this phenomenon of projecting your hopes and dreams onto another person instead of pursuing them yourself. We decided it needed a name. We also thought it should be called something similar to a scapegoat - where a person or a group of people single out an individual to be blamed for all problems or evils. So, after kicking around a few ideas, here's the best thing we've come up with so far. We're open for suggestions if anyone has something shorter.


- noun
a person or group made to bear the aspirations of others or to succeed in their place.

Chiefly Biblical
a pony let loose in the wilderness after a high priest laid the aspirations
of the people on its head. Lev 16:8, 10,26 16:816,1610,26.6:8,10,2
–verb (use with object) (used with object) h object)
to make an aspiration pony of: The married men tried to aspiration pony their single friend.


  1. Excellent idea. It reminds me of a quote from an old friend: "It's easier to betray someone else's ideals than your own." The defiant response of all unwilling aspiration ponies everywhere.

  2. I'm so glad you like this. I was hoping someone would find it a useful term and you are exactly one of those wordsmiths always on the prowl for something new.