The other day I had an epiphany while eating a bag of potato chips. The bag was full of air, I had to burst it like a balloon to open it, and inside were only five or six crumbled chips. It got me thinking about how people fill conversations with trite expressions and phrases, creating the illusion they have said something significant, just like a deceptively puffed-up bag of chips.
Well, not really. What actually occurred to me was that snack food is a huge rip-off, but that is beside the point. My point is… and I do have one (which, by the way, is all explained in my last book – if you haven’t read it you really should, but please finish this article first) is that we no longer say what we mean or mean what we say. Do we honestly think interjecting “Every dog has its day” or replying with “Is that so?” contributes to the conversation? No, all it does is prolong the meeting, party, or intervention, cutting into time that could be better spent at home zoning out watching clouds passing by.
Than this overused phrase: “Honesty is the best policy.” Is it? Honesty is good, yes, but not always. Up to a certain point, you should be honest, but just imagine if we were all honest all the time. The world would be terrible. It would be a cold, cruel place.
“G-sus, Christine. Have you gained a lot of weight, or what? You are so puffy.” “Boy, that breath of yours is something else. I am about to pass out. Seriously, that has to be the worst breath ever.” “Has your ass always been that flat or am I just noticing it now for the first time?”
I will tell you what is really bad – going up to your friend whom you haven’t seen in a while and saying, “Oh my God, you are pregnant!” and they are not. I have done that, and I will tell you – the look on his face! He looked at me blankly and said, “As far as I know, men cannot have babies.” I tried to cover, but it was no use. “Oh, I thought I read somewhere these days they can.” How many people can honestly say they are completely honest? Not too many. That is why people in the U.S. have to put their hand on a Bible and take an oath to testify in court. Everyone just assumes that people lie. We have to say “I swear to God” or “I swear on my mother’s life, may God strike me dead!” if we really want to be believed. I really never lie. I don’t- I swear to God. (Like you have to – like God doesn’t know the truth!) Okay, I do lie at the Cardio machine at the gym. It says “Enter Program and Age” and I punch in “35” and I push Enter. I don’t want the machine to give me a workout for a forty-one-year-old.
When it comes to clear communication, these useless phrases, expressions, and cliches aren’t really up to snuff. Whatever that means. Let’s just say that people say a lot of things that are ridiculous.
For example, how about those:
- What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
- Adversity builds character.
- God doesn’t give you anything you cannot handle.
I have revised those saying to make them more accurate:
- What doesn’t kill you puts you in a whole lot of pain and makes you cry a lot and want to crawl into a hole forever and live with rodents.
- Adversity builds character. Translation: You become bitter and angry and then people hate you even more.
- God doesn’t give you anything you cannot handle… unless God is on it and doesn’t like you either.
What’s even worse is the new trend of saying “You know what I mean?” Often, people say it after each and every sentence. “You know what I mean?” It is used so much it has become one word “YouknowwhatImean?” People who use it seem unsure if they are being understood correctly. I admire that. I always repeat back what they have said to ensure I have comprehended.
That would be me: “Now, what I think you are saying is that you are thirsty, but I am only saying that because you just said, you were thirsty, but I might have misinterpreted. You could have cryptically explained to me the genetic code of the common housefly, and if that is the case, no, Idon’tknowwhatyoumean.”
So for the good of all humankind, I suggest that we liberate ourselves from these empty expressions and wasted words. For your reference, here’s an incomplete list of phrases I kindly ask that nobody say around me anymore:
“Stop and smell the roses.” – Well, what if you are allergic to roses?
“Wake up and smell the coffee.” – What if you drink tea?
“Happy as a clam” – Okay, if clams are so happy, then why do people “clam up” when they get mad?
“For the love of Pete”, “Heaven’s to Betsy” – Who is Pete? Who is Betsy? Do they know each other?
“Take care.” – This is short for “Take care of yourself”. What does this even mean? Where’s the care? I will take it. Pretty soon it will be just “take”.
“Have a nice day.” – Cashiers and other service-industry people are forced by their supervisors to say this to every customer. The cashiers don’t mean it. What they are really saying is, “Please, I don’t want to get fired.”
“He wouldn’t hurt a fly.” – Everybody hurts flies. Someone realized the hatred of flies is so universal that they actually came up with a device to kill them. Who likes flies? Or wasps? What’s the purpose of those two anyway?
“The sun will come out tomorrow.” – Yes, but only if you are the one who wrote the lycics to the theme song for the musical Annie. In that case, the sun comes out for you every time you receive your big fat royalty check. Otherwise, rain.
“Nothing is forever.”- However, diamonds apparently are forever. They also happen to be a girl’s best friend. Hint.
“You win some, you lose some.” – Although, someone I know does have the habit of saying this one during sex.
Well, that’s “the long and short of it.” See what I have done here? I have wasted your time by using that phrase: “the long and the short of it.” If I have included it as a way to quickly wrap up this chapter I have defeated the purpose. Not to mention the words I am now using to explain this to you. On top of that, I haven’t made any sense. How can something be long and short? It can’t. It is physically impossible. You cannot be fat and skinny or hot and cold or ugly and pretty. In the eighties, my mom had this super orange wallpaper with cubes on it that was pretty ugly but is not considered retro, vintage, and cool, but that is another whole can of worms.