In the wake of successive sexual scandals of IMF Chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Congressman, Anthony Weiner, I learned that there’s no shortage of euphemisms for expressing love (or sexual) affairs in modern English such as tangoing, one night stand, Okay fluke planetary alignment, etc. from recent newspapers.

However, I don’t understand (1) what the word, “socially imposed judgments,” in the sentence of Carolyn Hax’s column of Washington Post’s Lifestyle section (June 6 issue), though I think I can guess it roughly. Also I have no idea about (2) what “Keyboard, face, keyboard, face,” means. Can someone clarify the meanings of these two phrases in the following sentence?

Hi, Carolyn.

Do you have any advice on how two people who really hit it off after a mutual friend’s birthday party might see past their own hang-ups and begin dating each other with open minds? We’ve both got some socially imposed judgments about how easy it was for the other person to jump into bed right away .

One-night stand to relationship? [This is how the asker signed her question.]

Here begins Carolyn Hax's reply:

Keyboard, face, keyboard, face.

How about: “Why don’t we go out to see if we actually like each other?”

Unless you don’t feel as if you can do the asking?

Edited to add more context by Robusto

  • Can you provide the link, please?
    – Thursagen
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 23:28
  • 1
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 23:29
  • 1
    There are two completely separate questions here. Please stop asking more than one question at a time.
    – MrHen
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 3:27
  • 1
    @z7sg. Thanks. The catoon gave me very clear understanding of what 'Keyboard face, Keyboard face' mean at a glance. I love it, a marvelous presentation of the meaning. Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 7:31
  • 1
    @MrHen. No, it's not 'completely separate' question. They're closely interrelated in the same question and and answer set. I just placed number just to make question part and answer part clear. I think separating questions in a short sentence like this is simply waste of time and space, which I don't like to make. Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 7:43

3 Answers 3


"Socially imposed judgments" simply means the expectations of society: what is required to be in compliance with social mores and customs. As for the other, I think it simply suggests nervous, embarrassed glances down at the keyboard and back to the other person's face.

Edit, now that I've added context to the quote in the question above

The bold-face line "One night stand to relationship?" is how the questioner signed herself, or how the columnist signed her (probably the former). People who write in to advice columnists use funny names or phrases to sign themselves, because they obviously don't want to reveal their real names.

Now, getting on with the rest, the columnist is actually dealing with the original asker, someone who commented on the exchange, and then the original asker again. There are three segments to the exchange. So what the original asker wants to know is if it's all right to begin dating this guy after she had a one-night stand with him — if she can overcome the judgment of the community, etc. In other words, she wants to know if doing something deemed socially unacceptable in her circle permanently invalidates any chance of her having a legitimate relationship with that man.

Now it becomes clear that the "keyboard, desk, keyboard, desk" does in fact mean that the columnist is flabbergasted at such a silly bit of prudery, especially as an afterthought.

  • Robusto-san. I’m not still clear. Does the asker evading the blame of her fluke of having a careless sex by using the word, ‘socially imposed judgment’? Does ‘socially imposed judgment’ mean there was an irresistible atmosphere or group consensus at the site to prompt two people to have ‘one-night-stand.’ It seems as if the asker is excusing herself by saying she wasn’t spontaneous in having that relationship, but simply was motivated or pressed by the mood of the group members at the party. Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 1:48
  • @Yoichi Oishi: Oishi-san, I have now read the WaPo article you linked, and I believe the format may have been confusing to you. The first part in italics is the write-in question; the part in bold-face is how the asker signed herself. All the rest is the columnist's response. I will edit your question to make that clear.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 2:43
  • I've also edited my answer to provide more insight (I hope).
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 2:56

"Keyboard, Face, Keyboard, Face" sounds to me like an expression of frustration, as in the person is hitting their head on the keyboard, similar to how one might say they're hitting their head against the wall.


Robusto is correct about what "socially imposed judgments" are. However, he's mistaken about "keyboard, face, keyboard, face"; that indicates someone repeatedly smashing their face into their keyboard. It's similar to the expression *headdesk*.

The basic motivation to do such a thing is so that the physical pain will overwhelm and distract from the psychological pain caused by the social situation one is experiencing.

The semantic content of communicating to someone that one is so doing (almost always untruthfully, thanks be) is identical to that of the classic New Jerseyism "Yer killin' me".

  • You could be right. My first thought was "faceroll" as in online gaming, but that didn't seem right in the context. Your notion (similar to knocking one's own head against the wall in frustration) sounds good. +1
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 1:03
  • @Robusto-san/@chaos. Given your answers, how would you rephrase 'Keyboard, face, keyboard, face' in plain phrase that I can use? For instance, 'I'm at a loss to find right advice to give you'? Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 10:10
  • @Yoichi: I’d suggest “That’s ridiculous!”
    – PLL
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 4:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.