Saturday, May 11, 2013

I Hate When People Say That!: 25 Things I Hope I Never Hear Again

Either I'm becoming a grumpy old man, or I'm regressing to peevish, petulant boyhood, but people really need to start watching what they say around me. In true sourpuss spirit, I've decided to make my latest list a list of what not to say or ask the next time you see me. (Don't stop me if you think you've heard some of these before. If it's not worth saying once, it's worth saying not to say it twice.)

1. "Where do you see yourself in 5/10/15/20 years?" As David Chappelle might say, "Who am I, Negrodamus?"

2. "African-American" Wrong on so many levels! It suggests that all black people are American, that African = black, and that "black" is somehow a dirty word. My mother was born in Antigua (when it was a British commonwealth), and my dad was born on the French side of Saint Martin, and I was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands. What does that make them -- and me? That's right, we're all black.

3. "He/She/It/They was/is/were amazing!" If everything is amazing, then is anything truly amazing?

4. "Have a safe flight." As if frequent and infrequent fliers have any control over what happens up in the air. "I hope you have a nice flight" would be preferable -- and it doesn't imply the possibility of a fiery crash landing, which nobody needs to be thinking about right before take off.

5. "It is what it is." So banal, so obvious, it immediately trivializes whatever you were discussing. It's a wonder that anyone ever thought to say it, or that everyone thought to repeat it as if it were the most brilliant closing statement one could possibly make.

6. "So what do you do all day?" As if spending at least a third of every weekday doing a job you hate is the only way to live.

7. "I could care less." Not because it's kind of a rude thing to say but because I couldn't care less.

8. "Don't take it personal." "Personal" is an adjective; "personally" is an adverb. I don't take it personally when people get it wrong (and way too many people do), but they really ought to make it their personal mission to say it right.





9. "Feel better"/"Get well soon." If I had any control over it, do you really think I'd be lying in this godforsaken sick bed.

10. "I'm not on Facebook." It's not so much that they aren't on Facebook as it is the way some people say it, as if Facebook is Satan and not giving into its temptation immediately elevates you to the status of super, superior human.

11. "So when am I going to see you? If you have to ask, one or both of you doesn't really want to. People with a burning desire to see each other just make it happen.

12. "Let's do something soon." Even more annoyingly non-committal than No. 11 and as thinly veiled a near-kiss off as "Take care" and "Keep in touch."

13. "Diez centavos?" Damn Buenos Aires and it's continuing shortage of moneda -- though it has resulted in a few discounts of up to 2 pesos! If cashiers are going to have to grovel for change, why not just make all prices even peso amounts?

14. "Hablas muy bien el espaƱol." It's not that it's not a nice thing to say, or that I ever really get tired of hearing/reading it, but people like that nice cashier at my local panaderia (Why are they -- and my Pilates teachers -- always nicer to me than anyone else providing a service in Buenos Aires?) say it at my own risk. It's pretty much guarantees that I'm going to screw up my next sentence.

15. "[Anything] to the [anything]" -- as in "Hell to the no." What does that even mean?

16. "Black don't crack." Why does this sound kind of dirty to me?

17. "Is it true what they say about black men?" The bane of my social existence for the last nearly seven years living abroad. If I answered yes, how cocky would that sound -- pun intended?

18. "Top or bottom?" ("Activo o pasivo?")/ "What are you looking for?" ("Que buscas?") Same shit, different country. I'd say it's time for those horny guys on Grindr and Manhunt to come up with some new material. An unimaginative fling-turned-friend once defended the former as vital information because if you aren't going to do that in bed then what are you going to do, which would explain why he wasn't very good there.

19. "Fun" for sex. Speaking of online malapropisms... Sex is fun, but come on, we're all adults here. Do we really need a euphemism for sex?

20. "That's so American." As if the United States is the only country where the citizenry is given to cultural vices.

21. "Where (are) you at?" As grammatical fuck-ups go, I'm not particularly bothered when people end sentences with prepositions unless it's "at" the end. And don't even thinking about dropping those helping verbs! They're there to help us not sound like illiterate caveman.

22. "This album is about where I'm at now." For any music journalist in danger of overdosing on trite creative commentary, it's a true occupational hazard -- and quite possibly the most it's-so-obvious-why-even-bother-saying-it thing that someone can say this side of No. 5. At least its "at" is where it should be.

23. "[Insert name of dearly departed celebrity here] lost his/her battle with cancer." Another occupational hazard -- in the Obituary section. A friend/colleague/breast cancer survivor once enlightened me on how incredibly insensitive this is. Anyone who bravely battles a disease as insidious as cancer, whether alive or not on the other side, is no loser.

24. "Supper" and "cocktails" A completely irrational pet peeve, yes, but both words have always made me cringe. I'd much rather have "dinner" and "drinks," thank you.

25. "I love Taylor Swift." Atzin, whose taste in music I've long respected above most others, scared the hell out of me on Thursday night when he became my first friend ever to declare anything more than indifference to Swift. I might never be the same again. Several weeks ago, I heard "22," her latest single, playing on the TV while I wasn't looking. It was the first time I'd ever heard the song, and until I looked up and could see what I'd been listening and cringing to, I could have sworn it was a Saturday Night Live parody of bad confessional singing.

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