A couple of months ago in this space, I explored the increasing use of certain clichés in our speech and how annoying they are.
“At the end of the day,” upon pulling together all the information for that column published on Dec. 1, I quickly realized there was an over-abundance of material for one article. There were just “too many fires to put out” in this regard, so I decided to follow it up with a Part Two version “down the road.”
Which is what I’m doing today, rather than “going in a different direction” with another column idea.
So now that you dear readers hopefully are “on the same page” with me on this decision, I’d like to focus on some of those other clichés that didn’t make it in the first time.
It Is What It Is
A lot of people have asked me, including Jeff Boyles, public services director for the city of Mount Airy, why I left one out so near and dear to our hearts: “It is what it is.”
Now I must admit that when I hear this, I just want to grab the speaker by the shirt collar and give him or her a good shaking. What a pointless, senseless piece of verbal garbage, and the little meaning it does have is distasteful.
If someone says, “It is what it is,” they are basically stating the obvious. You might hear it when complaining about high gas prices or the fact that it has rained every day for a week, as was the case recently.
The morons who utter this phrase seem to be saying, “Tough — accept reality — deal with it,” which I have no problem with in and of itself. Yet there is a certain defeatist attitude associated with “it is what it is” that makes me want to do anything but find some bad development acceptable.
For instance, if I tell someone, “Did you hear that Fred’s house burned down?” I’d rather hear a response espousing sympathy for poor Fred or the need to help him out, rather than just “it is what it is.”
People might as well say, “It isn’t what it isn’t.” Or, more appropriate for we’uns in Surry County, “It ain’t what it ain’t.”
At least it would be different.
That Being Said
I also was reminded by some folks about “that being said” not being included in the earlier column, or its first cousin, “having said that.”
Lord, the times we have heard some politician or sports commentator babble on and on about how good or bad something is only to say “that being said” — here’s a totally opposite view I have about the situation.
Along with sounding wishy-washy, it seems to be a fancy way of saying “however” or “but,” words that have worked quite well for centuries. So I wonder why people need to use a substitute for them, particularly something more wordy.
Thankfully, this particular cliché seems to be limited to political or sports commentary and does not show up in regular conversation that much. Can you imagine a wife telling a husband or vice versa, “The last 25 years with you have been truly wonderful — having said that, I want a divorce!”
Giving 110 Percent
This is another cliché that has worn out its welcome.
For one thing, it is not mathematically possible. Even if someone could give it their all, in a job or athletic endeavor, it would only amount to 100 percent.
Of course, when a person says he or she gives 110 percent, it’s a way of indicating that a huge effort is being devoted to whatever task is at hand.
So just to be on the safe side, I want the higher-ups in my company to know that I’m willing to give 112 percent from now on — two percentage points more than the standard 110, and adjusted for inflation.
This one really makes me cringe. When people say, “My bad,” it’s usually because they have screwed up big-time, and uttering what they consider a cool phrase somehow will make them look like less of a bozo.
Lots of times I see this in sports; for example, when a receiver drops a ball that the quarterback has gift-wrapped and tossed into his hands on a silver platter.
“My bad,” the errant player will say while tapping his chest and returning to the huddle.
Which makes me want to reply, well who else’s fault do you think it could have been, as if the issue was in doubt?
One Game At A Time
Now that I have broached the subject of sports, this is something you’ll hear all the time during the National Football League playoffs. A coach might be asked if he thinks his team has a chance to go to the Super Bowl, and invariably will respond, “We’re just taking it one game at a time.”
Naturally, this avoids having to discuss last week’s embarrassing performance or the tough opponent coming up, but it sounds kind of ridiculous when examined literally.
I mean, does the coach believe anyone expects him to divide up his team and play one game in Pittsburgh and another in Green Bay at the same time?
God Was With Us
Although sports and tired old sayings go together like a hand and glove, this is one cliché that has become tiresome to a nauseating degree — especially with Ray “Mr. Religion” Lewis playing in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
A player will score a touchdown or sack the quarterback, then immediately point to the heavens as if it were the Big Guy in the Sky’s doing.
Then when interviewed afterward, he’ll say, “God was on our side today.” Oh really? So the other team is a bunch of atheists? The Baltimore Ravens (Lewis’ squad) is God’s chosen team? (When everyone knows it’s really the Redskins.)
In Ray Lewis’ case, he plays one of the most-violent positions in football (middle linebacker), so I guess it’s God’s will to want to rip the head off every ball carrier who comes through the line or knock the quarterback unconscious.
There are many more clichés I’d like to explore today, but that being said, I’m out of space again!
Tom Joyce is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at 719-1924 or email@example.com.