Saturday, October 31, 2009

Top 10 thoughtless/stupid things people say.

We have all put our foot in our mouths from time to time. Either that or we are so painfully shy that we have no possible way of making that faux pas (side note, this is not pronounced FOO-paws or FOX-paws it's foh-PAH). It's a matter of course that we will embarrass ourselves by what we say, but some people do it more predictably than others. 12 year olds are exceedingly good at it. Some of mine are so memorable, that I can't even bear to list them here and I have to believe that all parties involved are either dead or so far away that I am just a distant memory because the alternative is too horrible.

10. Are you pregnant? - I used to believe that this was under the exclusive purview of men. Women of course had a spiderman like baby-sense that allowed them to know if someone was 'in a family way'. I later found out that this was not the case at all and that women are actually more apt to make this rather embarrassing slip of the tongue than men. There is no recovering from this embarrassment. The best you can say is 'I didn't mean anything by it' But all concerned know the damage is done. Instead of inquiring about future happy news, you are calling that woman a fat cow.

9. Did you get that on sale? - This little number depends really on what you are referring to. If you are looking at a wedding dress, you might want to hold that one back. If you are looking at paver stones for the back yard, go right ahead. Just remember, depending on the perceived value of the item and the thriftiness of the friend, you may just be accusing your buddy of being a cheap so and so, or you are looking like the cheap thus and such. Anyway, it might be a good one to avoid.

8. Sheesh! who died? - Innocent enough and probably well placed in a silent bar. This turn of phrase can be true once in a lifetime and once is enough to leave you embarrassed for a good portion of your life. If people are uncharacteristically quiet in a place they are normally noisy, it might be a good idea to see what is what before you go shooting your mouth off. I've personally been on the shooting end of this one and while I did feel stupid, I was also incredulous at the thought of somehow being blamed for insensitivity for something I didn't know about. For the record, the person in question did not die, they fainted. Big deal someone swoons and i'm a brute. Tell em to take a sick day.

7. You're Lucky!... - This phrase is only said to people that have just run afoul of a personally hard event, but once in a while some bonehead will actually tell you this when something very grave has happened to you. Lets take the former; You get to work 15 minutes late because you have decided that you really didn't need to pay attention to that stop sign and purposefully mistake it as a yield sign and suffered the consequences. The officer has shown you the traffic yellow card and you slouch into work late and mad. You tell a co-worker about your misfortune and this hapless girl or guy says 'You're lucky he didn't get you for ___________ too" Fill blank in with any number of traffic infractions that our debonair member of local law enforcement decided to omit and there you have it. You feel no better and your well meaning colleagues are in fact thoughtless. I've heard this said about death to the bereaved as well. 'Well you're lucky it wasn't a drawn out death' Well aren't we all living a drawn out death? I for one would like to see my own demise drawn out as long as possible. Nobody has ever told anyone they are lucky unless the circumstances of the event clearly show otherwise. You have never heard 'Hey! I won the lottery!', 'Well you're lucky, you could have won 2 million dollars less'

6. Do you want your dessert? - Ah to be 13 again. When the desire for sweets is really not outweighed by anything. OF COURSE nobody want's their dessert. Everyone ELSE is on a diet! Usually this is a problem that will be self solving with the application of a peer group of friends. If you have the right friends, it's a good idea to bow to peer pressure once in a while. Personally I count this along with asking anyone for a piece of candy. You've got your box of milk duds, and your friend says 'can I have some?' You can only get turned down right? Well, lets step this up a few notches. Can I borrow two thousand dollars? I really need it. So now I am put in the uncomfortable position of rejecting you for a request that should NEVER HAVE BEEN ASKED.

5. That's nothing... - Someone tells a lovely anecdote about something that happens in their lives. We as humans are story tellers. Some are better at it than others no doubt, but when someone takes your story and says 'That's nothing, if you want _____, blah blah blah' Simultaneously grinding on the other persons story with their heels and propelling expectations of the coming story to new heights. Usually this happens in the teens as well, but some people never grow out of it.

4. Just for kicks... - There are several similar phrases for this, but it always means the same thing. It is usually said by someone in a position of authority that knows that what they are about to ask for is not popular with the people. So they say 'Just for kicks, lets clean out all of the dumpsters in the parking lot so they don't stink any more' I got news for you, nobody does that for kicks.

3. How much did you pay for that? - This mostly innocuous phrase is fine on small scale items, but on larger items some people just don't wanna talk about it. I personally think it's more a point of information. The problem is, people don't want to tell you not because they don't want you to know, but because they really don't want to know that they spent too much. This is basically an opener to a conversation that will go nowhere. If they offer how much it was worth then they either don't care if they payed too much or they KNOW the deal is the best in town (read: insider deal).

2. How much did they pay you? - People get really dicey about money. especially how much they make. They probably figure that if you ask this, then you will know how much ransom to ask for their dog. Funny thing is, in some places. like the government. Employees pay scale is known to everyone else that works there. This is an interesting phenomenon because it stops favoritism to an extent and it really stomps on anyone asking that question because it just became public information. While I don't think that sharing income information is necessarily bad, I think for the most part people like to play those cards close to the vest.

1. You're really talented - This is an interesting compliment. If you take it for what it is usually intended, you are flattered and say thank you. But lets look at this innocuous comment. a Talent is considered the 'Natural endowment of a person'. They are basically saying you are really lucky and that if THEY had that talent, they could do whatever it is as well. Never mind that you actually practiced and worked at your skill for hours on end for weeks and months and years. Because you are 'Talented'. This actually has it's greatest example in theater. The actors are usually called the 'Talent' everyone else is the crew. This subtle implication is that everyone ELSE actually works and the 'TALENT' was just handed a break for doing nothing more than looking good and lying in front of a camera. I now never say that someone is talented. Instead I say they are excellent. It hits much closer to the point I'm driving at. I realize that nobody intends this phrase in the only way that it really can be taken, but that doesn't stop it being kind of insensitive.

There we are, I'm hoping this bit of cathartic steam letting will stop the voices in my head from replaying 'Marks top 10 most stupid/embarrassing things he said' in the shower. Of course I didn't list most of them here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Top 10 Scary Things

We are in the month. The great and scary month. Most of the month is actually very nice. We have one sporting event winding down and another starting up. We have pleasant weather for most of the weeks of the month. October is a trickster in it's very name. Octo- for eight seems to be a little bit off since it's month number 10. Why keep the Roman name for a month when we don't use the Roman calendar? Who knows? But that's all beside the point. The month in America stands for Halloween. Even though the day falls at the climax of the month we seem to see the whole month as being owned by Witches, Zombies and Goblins. Anything supernatural/creepy is relegated to this month with the possible exception of the ghosts of Christmas past present and future, but only the ghost of X-mas future was really that creepy. When you are young, these beasties can give you quite a scare, but as you get older you almost wish they were real just to spice things up a bit. When you are an adult, you get a whole other crop of things that scare you. Things that are so creepy that they don't make fun, or costumes for these things.

1. Public Performance - They say that public speaking is one of the most intimidating things that people can do. Fortunately, I don't suffer from that particular anxiety. But getting in front of people, knowing that all eyes will be on you, and worse still, knowing that they are judging everything you are saying, can give nearly anyone the creeps. I quote the wisdom of Mike Brady 'Just imagine that you are talking to everyone while in their underwear'. Wow, that's a great nugget. Why in the world would I want to do that?! So I can imagine that the auditorium is hotter than it really is? Sheesh.

2. Being Singled out - This goes hand in hand with number 1 except it's more that suddenly in a group all attention is focused on YOU. So in a large meeting, your boss asks your opinion of something and suddenly all eyes are on you. It's at this point that you usually say something really insightful like 'I agree 100% with what you are saying'. But you really don't want to be thought of as the loner. Outside all groups. Kind of reminds you of High School doesn't it?

3. Your kids acting obnoxious - This is more of a fear of Parents. People are not so much afraid as annoyed at kids acting obnoxious. But we all assume that we were kids at some point and we move on. The parents of those kids on the other there is some real fear. You would rather make a big fool of yourself than listen to your own flesh and blood do the same.

4. Extended relative visits - I'm not sure if this is a genuine phobia or what, but when THOSE relatives come into town and hit you up for some free room and board, you get a little jumpy. This isn't a fear as much as it might be an anxiety. These days nobody but people you DON'T want satying with you in your house would ask to do so. But then to hear how long they plan on gracing you with their presence. Well it can cause you some undue stress. This one I get from listening to the experiences of others and not from my own rich anecdotal storybook. Cousin Eddy, we hardly knew ye.

5. That one know what it is - Everyone has that one thing. you know. don't worry, I won't tell anyone else. But it's that one thing that you are absolutely petrified of. It might be in this list, and it might not, but one thing is for certain. It grips you more than any regular pedestrian fear. This is REAL. Most people have one of these and it's completely irrational and serves no purpose but to embarrass you completely when you are exposed to it. What's mine do you ask? I'm not tellin, but I invite you to guess.

6. I.R.S. - They say these Government blood suckers actually inspire more fear than nearly anything out there. People would rather experience #9 below than face the Tax Man. All of my own meetings with the IRS have been genial and quick. No real reason to fear them, but that is the NEW IRS. The old IRS probably still has some of that old scare power in em. I don't want to find out!!!

7. Lost Kids - Another parent thing. When your kids are old enough to start walking but young enough to trust anyone they meet, you fear for them ALL the time. If you are a mom, multiply this by Avagadro's number to come up with the actual fear factor. Here is the funny thing, we actually live in a society where crime is on a decline in general. It's thanks to a press with nothing better to do that we hear about all the wierdos that live near us. Ick. Anyway. Just the idea that you have lost your kids in the mall or at an amusement park, or even at a regular store just scares the crap out of a parent. Enough so that you jerk the kid by the arm and nearly pull his arm out of his socket before calming down enough to scream at the poor punk. Problem is, they don't remember that yell fest and they do it again, and again.

8. Car Accident - Nothing projects death like a totaled car. Even a fender bender makes you wonder if the driver was hurt or not. Nobody likes an accident, and nobody wants the trouble of who hit whom and who needs to pay. It's all a hassle. The only thing I know. The insurance will always pay just less than what you had hoped and will repair your car to near junkitude. yuck. Car accidents are the worst thing I can think of that aren't really serious. This of course adds insult to injury if it's YOUR fault.

9. Dental Problems - Biggest cause of severe dental issues is not congenital defects of your teeth or a lack of flouride, but rather, the trip to the dentist itself. The lack of regular checkups is the biggest reason your teeth are in the shape they are. It's no wonder, it's a regular house of horrors in there. I'm pretty sure that they just put those suspected terrorists in the dentist chair for a checkup. That's GOTTA be against the Geneva Convention. People fear the Dentist JUST UNDER their fear of the IRS. EEEEEEEEEK!!!

10. Unemployed - This has become a bigger and bigger realized fear in the world today. Our own country edges up towards 10% unemployment and you wonder which of your friends have found new jobs, or are floundering at their mom and dad's place. Just the thought of being called into your bosses room makes you break out into a cold sweat. This fear is at it's biggest from people that have experienced a layoff in the past. It's a horrible thing, I'm here to tell you. Anyone that tells you that it's just as tough being the manager doing the firing is just being an idiot and should shut up. No, I know it's no fun, but it's on the same scale as breaking bad news to someone, not really scary, just something you would rather not do. To be on the other end is the same as having a good friend suddenly turn on you for no good reason. You sit and wonder why and what you can do to mend the fence with that friend. Except the company is NOT your friend, NOR is it your 'family'. It is your place of employment. It is much more tragic to lose a close friend than it is to lose your job. But hopefully you can repair your relationship with your friend. Once a job lets you go, they aren't going to give you a second thought UNLESS they suddenly need you for something, and then they will be sweet as honey again so they can get what they need from you. It's a real fear that people are living with on a daily basis right now.

Thanks so much for trudging back into the dark recesses of my addled brain. I hope it was worth soiling your Timberlines.