Latest 3 Things

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

3 Things Not To Say...

For the most part, it takes a lot more than one sentence to get to know someone. Human beings are complex creatures, and the way each of us uses language is normally as unique as our fingerprints, ear shapes and DNA. We are shaped by countless people, places and social forces as we build our vocabularies, sentence patterns, and slang. And in many ways, how we say what we say is a better life’s story than any we could actually tell. There are, however, a few choice sentences, phrases or figures of speech which are so fantastically overwrought, stupid or self-absorbed that they can literally invalidate the balance of words that have ever or will ever come out of the same mouth. These choice bits of language provide an instant, unmistakable insight into the soul of their utterer which affords the careful listener the unique opportunity to avoid the disappointment, disgust and potential cognitive impairment involved in actually listening to anything else that person might have to say. And so, as a public service announcement, 3 things people say that should be the last thing you listen to:

1. “I don’t wait in line” If the Age of Entitlement had a slogan, this would be it. There hasn’t been this reliable of a way to spot a woman you should stay away from since they were sewing scarlet “A”s on aprons. For those of you living in a cave, far away from any reality television or in either one of the Dakotas, this delightful little phrase is a reference to the queues outside of nightclubs, bars, ultra-lounges or other evening entertainment locales. It is, quite simply, an assertion that one is far too attractive, important or otherwise unable to bothered with the inconvenience of having to stand alongside the rest of the proletariat when awaiting nighttime amusement. If it sounds absurdly self-aggrandizing, it is. If it sounds like the sort of thing you’d only hear Paris Hilton (or a similarly infamous celebu-tante) say, it’s not. The number of times I have heard this uttered by admittedly attractive, but otherwise unimportant young women makes me worry that the fairer, smarter and more mature sex is about to relinquish its lead. I can certainly agree that every little girl deserves to feel beautiful, but I’m not certain how this became the right for every little to girl to feel better than everyone else. Take it from me, if you have to say that you don’t wait in line, you probably need to. 

2. “I like Sarah Palin” There was a time when David Duke was the most apocalyptic political figure any of us could imagine. Those were the good ol’ days when the fact that a former Klansman was gathering nearly nationwide support (albeit a small percentage) could actually shock the conscience. Compared to Ms. Palin, Dave Duke looks about as dangerous as Daisy Duke. The national popularity of this play-acting simpleton is a frightening referendum on the popularity of stupidity in a nation which has led the way in public information access for the last two hundred years. She is possibly the most prominent female politician ever, and seems bent on setting back the women's rights movement at least fifty years. The last time I can recall the “if I can’t understand it, it’s stupid” school of thought gaining this significant of a following was amongst the bully crowd in elementary school. It takes a special kind of dumb to look at a woman like this as a role model. The only person that I can think of who can rightfully rejoice in the national popularity of this champion of fools, is Dan Quayle - whose famously inane sayings now look like the Kennedy memoirs. And the only types of people who should be allowed to not be able to name a single newspaper, magazine or Supreme Court decision are 7th graders. 

3. “...Pal; ...bro; ...dude” I combed my brain for a particular phrase which might help to identify your classic douche by sound alone. Usually the visual clues are usually more than enough, and if you’re someplace dark with someone you suspect might be a douche - well, you deserve what happens to you. But, as the species grows more advanced, they will likely abandon their giveaway plumage (e.g. Ed Hardy, Affliction, TapOut) for more plain clothing - and aural clues will become ever more important. But it turns out that it isn’t what they say, but how they finish saying it which is as dependable an indication of douchebaggery as a Von Dutch truckers hat. Closing a sentence with one of these emasculating, nameless pronouns is the douche’s way of letting you know that (a) your name isn’t important enough to know, (b) even if he does know it, you’re not important enough for him to use it and (c) no matter what he’s just said, he can still kick your ass. Seriously, this is the spoken equivalent of pulling your pants down and measuring your penis in front of everyone. Anyone over the age of 18 that speaks like this is in desperate need of a good beating, and wouldn’t know masculinity if it walked up and smacked them. Listen, you’re not in the mob, you’re not a rapper, and the only thing connecting you to the 70’s was the Ashton Kutcher picture you had up in your high school locker. Do us all a favor, use our names or shut the hell up.

* * *

Perhaps the only thing more convincing of the coming social Armageddon than people-watching is people-listening. The real noise pollution going on these days has nothing to do with modified exhaust pipes, overly-loud hip-hop, or annoying ring tones. It is the seemingly endless stream of banality, ignorant opining and vapid utterance that is generated by our youngest generations with ever-increasing volume. There was a time when a lack of confidence in what one was saying dictated speaking in hushed tones. That time has passed and idiocy is now shouted from every street corner. Well, that or not having an idea what you’re talking about no longer inspires a lack of confidence. You don’t have to overhear conversations anymore, they’re projected at you from seemingly impossible distances nearly everywhere you go. Peace and quiet has never been at a higher premium and all of a sudden, the $300 Bose charges for headphones to keep the rest of the world out seems like a pretty damned good deal. In the end, you may not be able to control what you hear, but you can control what you listen to.

Now, what were you saying?


Denise said...

4. "I don't really read books..." ;)

None of the four attorneys in adjacent offices has any awareness of volume control. Gah! Be QUIET! I do not need to hear your telephone conversation (with, e.g., the lingerie department of Macy's because you think you left your sunglasses there when you were trying on bras)!

Anonymous said...

I believe that also saying, "Do these people even know who I am?", is right up there with I don't wait in line. Yes, I know who the fuck you are. You are the douchebag that will never get in this club.


Anonymous said...

Great blog and it sadly holds true for our current society - the age of entitlement. It's not just in those few things you listed "not to say" but obviously in everyday conversations and interactions there are many, many more. It's a bad slope that we are sliding down. People's cares, especially, when it comes to the way they speak and treat each other is sad, if not, plain disrespectful. What happened to being well-educated, humble, hard-working and thinking before we speak? People are rewarded when they say stupid things for attention and they go with what they think is cool - not so much with what is right or what they really believe. Great job, Glenn. I know you could have delved into this even more, but it was well-written and to the point. Thanks.

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