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4 Common Sayings With Which I Take Issue

4 Common Sayings With Which I Take Issue


  1. New Year, New You! Oh would that it were a new me! But it’s not. And, what’s more, I maintain that this is true not only for me, but for everyone, regardless of how many of us squeeze into our lululemons and drag our flabby asses to the gym for the first three weeks of January. Not only that, but every year we live, we get older, or less new. And this saying is really more depressing, if you think about it, than just accepting en masse that a new year means the old you, because at least there’s no disappointment involved. New year? Same old me. And that’s OK. Because I’m good enough, smart enough, &c.

  2. Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. OK, before you tell me that this saying has a nautical origin, keep in mind that these are sayings with which I take issue as they are used today. Do I think Joe Average (or Joe the Plumber, for that matter) knows that a “devil” is a part of a ship that is extremely hard to reach? No. So when they are saying “I’m caught between the devil and the deep blue sea,” you know they are totally picturing a red dude with horns and a pitchfork, and not some obscure part of a sailboat.

    So, given the fact that most people are unacquainted with seafaring lingo from two hundred years ago, I think a better choice of saying to mean the same thing would be, “caught between Scylla and Charybdis.” But unless they are Sting or a grad student, they don’t know who Scylla and Charybdis are, either. So, how about “caught between a rock and a hard place.” Sure, it’s stupid, because hard place? What? But at least you know everyone is on the same page, right? Because “devil and the deep blue sea” –WTF? Doesn’t make any sense.

    You don’t want your audience to be trying to puzzle through your clichés, people. You don’t want to have the person you’re talking to running hyptotheticals in their heads:

    Let’s see, If the saying was meant to denote a choice between two opposite poles, this would be something like good v. evil, happy v. sad, hot and cold, etc. Opposite of devil? Angel? God? If he was trying to say “caught between a rock and a hard place,” first of all, why wouldn’t he just say, “caught between a rock and a hard place?” And also, wouldn’t the cliché need to have two different versions of the same thing. Like a rock, and a hard place?

    Devil and deep blue sea–no goddamn relationship. See what I’m saying? The only thing this “saying” would make sense for, from a superficial point of view, is if you are trying to convey being caught between two things that are in an entirely non-sequiturial relationship to each other. Like if you needed to say you are caught between a cat and an umbrella, or a fish and a bicycle, well, then, I suppose you’ve arrived at the best choice of words in that case. DO YOU HEAR ME, BRANDON FLOWERS?

  3. The cat is out of the bag. OK, first reaction? Good! I’m glad the cat is out of the bag–why the fuck was it in a bag to begin with? Are you one of those sick people who bags up kittens and drops them into a pond to kill them or something? You should be arrested, you sick fuck.

    This is another one of those sayings where someone will go, “Yabbut it originally had a different meaning that involved people who were victims of scurvy and lashings!” And yeah, I know that. But these days, people say, “The cat is out of the bag!” to mean “the secret is out!” or “we’ve been made,” and even the original meaning doesn’t work here. The “cat o’ nine tails” was a torture device used on ships or some shit back in the day, by people who also probably knew where to find a ship’s “devil.” It was basically a whip, but a really bad whip, like way worse than the usual Indiana Jones variety, because, well, it had 9 tails. So you can imagine the surface area of a wound caused by it would be much more considerable than just a regular whip. So when the cat was out of the bag, that meant somebody was in deep shit. Somebody was going to get waterboarded, Regency-style.

    Look, we aren’t even using the stupid saying right. First we say something that makes us think about killing cats. Then we reassure ourselves that it’s not so bad! It’s not about killing cats, it’s just about outdated “interrogation techniques.” Come on, people! Don’t we have something else to use? Like, “we’ve been made” or “the gig is up,” maybe?

  4. The straw that broke the camel’s back. WTF? What camel?

Got a list to share? Here’s what to do:

  1. Write a “list” post on your blog.
  2. Copy this code, and paste in the text of your post:
  3. Either comment or email me at anna at abdpbt dot com to let me know you’re participating, and I’ll link you up below.

Check out these list lovers:

  1. ABDPBT Personal Finance
  2. Kerry at Cluewagon
  3. Ginny Marie at LemonDropPie
  4. Joy at Big Time Fancy
  5. Ginger at Ramble Ramble
  6. Pauvre Plume

Comments (8)

  1. Jan 19, 2009

    My list is up.

    I totally DID picture a dude with horns and a tail, too. Who knew it was about a boat?

    Kerry´s last blog post..6 Reasons I Hate the LinkedIn “Recommendation” Feature

  2. Jan 19, 2009

    I totally agree with you…New Year, New You, Ha!

    My list is up, too.

    Ginny Marie´s last blog post..Price List: Ooh, Ahh, Pizza!

  3. Jan 19, 2009

    Woooo list participation HERE!!!

    Joy @ Big Time Fancy´s last blog post..Things My Roommate Has Cooked

  4. Jan 19, 2009

    OK, can I delete that last one. Obviously I only read half the entry. Duh!

  5. Jan 19, 2009

    @My Buddy Mimi, I deleted, no worries!

    @Joy, @Kerry, @Ginny Marie, you’re all linked up.

  6. Jan 19, 2009

    A lot of the books I’ve worked on in my career fall into the New Year, New You category. It’s always bugged me too, with the added bonus of having that phrase forever make me think of work. Bleh.

    Ginger´s last blog post..A Monday list, but just technically

  7. Jan 19, 2009

    I’ve never heard of #2!

    I was thinking of the origin of certain phrases lately… like “brownnoser,” which, let’s face it, is NASTY when you think about it. A nose stuck up someone’s A and browned with S? Thanks for that.

    You’re welcome.


    Anyway, I just made my list. Happy MLK, Jr., Day.

  8. Jan 19, 2009

    You guys are linked up, @Ginger and @PauvrePlume

    Happy MLK day to everyone.

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