NEVER SAY ANY OF THESE THINGS AGAIN!
I mean it! Eliminate the following from your vocabulary at once!
INFURIATINGLY COMMONPLACE PHRASES:
“It is what it is.”
This means nothing. Look at that sentence: It is what it is. It is itself. The thing we are speaking of is the thing we are speaking of. Something exists, and we are talking about it. The thing is the thing that the thing which is the thing is. Hopefully, the fact that the thing being dealt with is a thing that is real is not news to anyone involved in this more than likely unfortunate situation. In essence, “it is what it is” is a politely cavalier way of stating “This is a problem that I am unable to help you with, or at any rate the amount of effort necessary to help you is such that I am going to simply and apologetically acknowledge the fact that your unappealing situation is a sad reality, not in fact a dream or a figment of your imagination, and hope that you will go ask somebody else to inconvenience themselves for your benefit.” This is what you say when your hands are tied, or when you neither want to help with nor accept any amount of blame for a set of circumstances. Everything is what it is. Otherwise we wouldn’t be where we are. Next time you say this to someone, think about just how little information you’re conveying, and what a whiny little buck-passer you are. Maybe you really can’t help, but there’s no reason to get all Zen about it.
Several years ago I began noticing this weird trend people have of prefacing their phone call farewells with a barely perceptible humming prefix. Mmmmmbye. What’s this “mmmm” shit? What’s so tasty all of a sudden? I’ll tell you what’s tasty: the fact that you’re getting off the phone with this boring person who’s wasting your time. There’s something sickeningly dismissive in that mmmm. Mmmmmbye = Thaaaaaaaank God. Mmmmmbye = Oooooooookay then. Whaaaaaaaaatever. That person on the other line probably doesn’t want to be on the phone with you either, slick, but they obviously need your help or why in God’s name would they have punched in the numbers that put them in the unenviable position of dealing with your condescending ass? They’re called mmmmmanners, you fucking abortion botchup! Use ’em!
“I love them to death, but…”
Despite its supposed proclamation of undying affection, this glib qualifier has never once heralded an upcoming compliment, further praise, or anything even remotely positive. It’s usually something more along the lines of: “I love them to death, but they are the sole cause of every single one of my problems, and my life would be a beautiful dream if they simply fell off the face of the planet, or, better yet, were brutally slaughtered in my presence, by me.” There’s always a “but”, and it’s always a big one. Not that I or anyone else can be considered an expert on what love is and what love isn’t, but people who “love them to death, but…” probably haven’t enjoyed a great many relationships where any kind of real love was involved, else they would not be equating it with constant duress. That’s a shame, but don’t call your ill-advised, one-sided (at best) relationship with the burdensome friend in question “love”, let alone a love that shall continue to the grave, if not beyond. This is a friend you’ve outgrown who has taken advantage of you a few too many times, and you’re not doing yourself or them any favors by professing to “love them to death”, when in fact their sudden unexplained absence, at least at the moment, would improve your day-to-day life to a considerable extent. Either work it out with them and salvage/renurture the dregs of your destructive-albeit-occasionally-enjoyable friendship or realize that loving someone to death in this day and age has somewhere along the way inexplicably become synonymous with not really liking them all that much, then let the cold shoulder or restraining order paperwork commence.
“You gotta love…(insert innately unlovable item of discussion)”
Don’t tell me what to do. I don’t “gotta love” Adam Lambert. I understand the man can sing, and I wish him well, to the extent that I wish a begrudging modicum of happiness on any stranger who has been nice enough not to harm myself, my friends, or my family. But I don’t “gotta love” him, much as it is not imperative that I love muscular dystrophy, the priest from “Deliver Us from Evil”, or bobbing for fetal pigs in a Hazmat can brimming with warm phlegm. Jolly tone of voice or not, demanding that your listener love something is crossing a line, and will go a long way toward ensuring that they not love it, regardless of how appealing they may have naturally found Fleet Foxes to be before you cheerfully crammed them down their esophagus.
HACKNEYED TOPICS OF SUPPOSEDLY HUMOROUS CONVERSATION:
I am male and I came of age in the 1980’s. If you are going to watch a Chuck Norris movie, I will watch it with you, and I will enjoy myself, particularly if you happen to be watching “Lone Wolf McQuade”, “Firewalker”, or “Invasion U.S.A.” But that series of outlandish claims concerning all the otherworldly things he can do with his karate powers has been around since 2005. Some of the “facts” were funny at the time, and Norris, by all accounts, agrees. But it is no longer funny simply to mention Chuck Norris. He is a guy who appeared in a series of entertaining movies in which he handily dispatched of enemies. I fondly remember a time when his introduction into a conversation elicited feelings of delight and comfort. That time has past. You know what else you’ve ruined, everyone? Ninjas. We can’t talk about them anymore. It is no longer funny simply to be a ninja. To mention the ninja is not enough anymore. What are you going to do with the ninja? This goes double, if not octuple, for pirates. You are not a pirate. Stop talking like one. It is not funny now. Look at it this way: If you were actually in the presence of Chuck Norris, a ninja, or a pirate, would you be cracking jokes? Not if you’re smart. Pretend they’re always around! Not only will this enrich your fantasy life, it’ll give the rest of us a break from your incessant attempts at a secondhand comedy routine.
I am not here to complain about “Family Guy”. I think it’s a funny show, when it’s on his game, though it’s steadily going downhill and simultaneously appears on too many channels at too many hours of the day. But most of us have seen most of the episodes, and awarding you with unearned laughter when you perform snippets from them verbatim is tiring. We are trying to be nice, and we like the show, too. But you had no hand in writing the script, nor has your performance improved upon the actors and animators who delivered its source material. This type of thing is expected on the playground when you’re killing time before 5th grade Earth Science. Otherwise, we’re now old. Let’s just go back to talking about our weekends.
GETTING PUNCHED/KICKED/SHOT IN THE FACE:
People are forever humorously threatening to harm one another faces these days. There’s a funny Bill Cosby routine where he’s talking about how once you perform a physically exhausting but well-received bit of slapstick for a child, they demand they you do it again and again, eventually culminating in Cosby gravely intoning “Get outta here, kid, or I’ll punch you right in the face”. Still funny, and it’s the final word on lighthearted facial injury, to my mind, and that was back in the late 60s or early 70s or hell if I know. It’s played out. Time to harm another part of the body. Suggestions?
Neither “gigantic” nor “enormous” were adjectives that needed improving upon. “Ginormous” is the type of thing that inspires laughter at awkward family gatherings where people are desperate to laugh at anything in order to vanquish the deadening silence that lurks around every payoff-free anecdote and unwanted personal question involving employment. Your aunt will ask you if you made it up, and she’ll start using it herself at work, saying “Isn’t that cute? My niece taught me that! Ha ha ha!” It won’t end well for anyone. On more than one occasion, a group of people on the elevator at my workplace have laughed at someone using the term “ginormous”, and the sound of us obliging the well-intentioned speaker with noises of delight and approval was straight out of a box of doomed chickens. Please, let’s endeavor not to inspire these sorts of situations.
I’m just as guilty of any and all of it, and then some, so let’s work together to make the world a better and funnier place to be! Or make your own list, and put “Cowardly assholes who take crude potshots at decent everyday folk from behind their pathetic, small-potatoes blogs” at the tippy top! That reminds me: much as it pains me to say it, it’s probably time for some of us to cut back on the exclamation points. Some famous writer guy – possibly Mark Twain, don’t feel like looking it up – apparently once said that using exclamation points is like laughing at your own jokes. That’s exactly right. Another winner, Mark Twain! Bang-up work. But I’ve always really liked people who laugh at their own jokes. Hell, I married one. What to do? Honestly, I’m probably just going to continue overusing them, but I’ll try to do so with a little more guilt behind it.
Man, it’s impossible to air your pet peeves without coming off as a petty, intolerant jackass, isn’t it? So do you own it or do you try to improve? Or what?