Friday, February 19, 2010

Disabuse the misuse.

People are always misusing expressions. And it's really only a matter of observation. People say "I could care less" when they really mean "I couldn't care less." I discovered this distinction when I was about ten. The reason they say it is because they aren't actually paying attention to what they're saying. They're just copying what they heard someone else say in a similar situation. It's the same with "PIN number" and "VIN number." Ugh. I must hear someone say "PIN number" at least eighty thousand times a month and it makes me shudder every time. And then there are some expressions that make no sense to me. Like when someone says "she was saggy in all the wrong places." Can you be saggy in the right places? Hey ladies, I'm saggy in all the right places. Shit!

Don't get me started on "literally." If the word "literally" were human and female, it would have taken out a mortgage at a battered women's shelter. It's obscene how abused this word is. People use it to mean everything from "seriously" to "nearly" and everything in between. "She literally jumped down his throat." No, she didn't. He would be dead with an exploded neck and she would be awaiting trial on charges of gymnastic manslaughter. Something else that secretly bothers me is "impact." It has no figurative meaning as a verb. Same with contact. What am I even arguing about? As a linguistics major I once argued that usage determines standard. I give up. I move we start using the word mustache as a verb. I'm going to mustache my face! Then you'll be sorry!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lament of the future cat man.

I hate that conversation that starts with "I've been really getting into ... lately." It drives me nuts. It's someone's way of telling you how interesting they think they are and that they'd like it if you could both talk about them for a while. There's no more self-serving thing to say. And I hate it when you're talking to someone and you can tell they're barely listening and just waiting for you to finish so they can say something. I'm such a giant hypocrite because I do this all the time. I'll be happily jabbering away with someone and then I'll get something in my head that I want to say really badly, but inevitably the other person has just launched into explaining the peculiar reproductive habits of the Italian frog swan and I'll sit there trying to half listen so if they ask me a question I can respond intelligently but also trying to hang onto the brilliant thought I've just had. It's almost always a lose-lose situation, though. Half the time, by the time they're done you've forgotten what you wanted to say and you're sitting there with your mouth hanging open with nothing further to contribute. Or they've craftily changed the subject entirely somewhere along the line and when you start talking they see right through you. And they get that look on their face like "This selfish jackass was clearly just waiting for me to stop talking so he could say that." Then they never want to converse with you again, because you're clearly a selfish jackass.

And it's the worst when you're in class or something, and someone is droning away and suddenly something amazing or funny occurs to you and you're like OH I MUST SHARE THIS WITH THE WORLD, and you secretly hope the one cute girl in the class will pay attention and she'll think to herself, "My, what an astute yet humorous observation from this fine gentleman, and now that I look he is rather handsome in his way" and after class she'll come by and tell you she appreciated your comments and you'll sense that she wishes ice cream upon her belly and you will banter the night through and end it with your mouth on her mouth and you will marry and have three bright children all named for New Yorker columnists and wearing tiny white sweaters around their necks like their debonair father. And you're sitting there with your hand in the air for the next three minutes. And those three minutes are a freaking eternity because you start thinking of how best to share your thoughts, what would be most meaningful, or funniest, and then you realize you're trapped! Either you won't ever be called on and you have to lower your hand with the taste of shame in your mouth while everyone around feels sorry for you, or you will be called on but by now you've overthought it so much that you start talking too quickly and start laughing at your own comments before you've actually reached the funny part. And the cute girl wakes up five minutes later and goes home to her charmingly oafish boyfriend.

The point I'm trying to make is: don't talk to people.