Thursday, March 18, 2010
Sticks & Stones
The truth is, we say these things because we like to pretend that words are just that--words. We attempt to fool ourselves and others into believing that they can tear us down with words but we'll still be fine. "You can call me a fatty all you want, but just don't pick up rocks and tree limbs and hurl them at my chunky body! Please, anything but violence!"
We undergo many sneaky tactics when it comes to saying dumb things. Most of the time, people attempt to make themselves feel better by beginning something offensive with an automatic defense.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but..."
"I probably shouldn't say this, but..."
"I think you're great and all, but..."
"Well, I gotta be honest..."
It's like you can say whatever you're thinking, so long as you begin it with a phrase that implies you know it's wrong.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but I hate you and I wish you would fall off a cliff to your sudden death."
"Oh, don't worry--I understand! Also, I can't think of any possibility that I could take that the wrong way!"
The funny thing is, we have a tendency to remember the horrible things people say to us and forget the compliments. Ten insults and one compliment might as well be eleven insults. Ever notice that when you feel self-conscious about something specific, you never forget when someone insults you about it? You think you have a big nose; ergo, you recall all negative comments regarding the largeness of your massive, beak-like honker. It's like you are actually seeking comments to reinforce your own, often unwarranted, paranoia.
Most of the time, people mean well with their comments. But, when people don't know what to say to you in an awkward exchange, they desperately scrape the bottom of a deep, nearly-empty/empty barrel for words to offer you in possible comfort. Usually, this results in saying something regrettable, aka WORD VOMIT.
Ever heard of word vomit? It's chunky, liquid regret. It is usually, but not always, accompanied by the imbibing of an alcoholic beverage. Anything that you sorely regret as you're say it and desperately wish you could shove it back into your mouth is word vomit.
Real, actual examples:
"That's an interesting dress. It kinda makes you look Amish."
"Is that a weird scar on your neck or a hickey?"
"You're really skinny. Just wait until you have kids; you'll never be skinny again."
This is where my penchant for biting sarcasm and my own word vomit come in handy. When some word vomits on your new shirt, you have no choice but scrape it off and throw it in their face, right?
My real, actual responses:
"Well, I'd rather be Amish than fat."
"No, it's actually a traumatic melanoma scar. Thanks for asking. Did you eat paint chips as a child?"
"I can hardly wait! Let's build an underground fortress, stock it with nothing but Little Debbie Zebra Cakes and wait out this exciting situation together!"
I know, I'm pretty horrible. Sometimes, I just can't help myself from my own horrible self. I often cite the over-used, under-appreciated, "But they started it!" excuse when returning the favor to others. Usually, it's because they did in fact start it. Other times, it's because they totally deserve it.
Either way, the stupid thing saying in your life isn't going away anytime soon. Therefore, you should stock up on witty, quick responses in case of disaster. I'll let you store them right next to my super delicious Little Debbie snack cakes.
Posted by Emily at 7:02 AM