I am discussing phrases that have entertained me over the years. We are ready for number 7.
7/”It is what it is.”
This is a fairly new phrase, I think. It is also controversial. Rat, the wonderful anti-hero of the comic strip “Pearls Before Swine,” despises this phrase and considers it meaningless. He ranted against it in one “Pearls” strip.
Who am I to disagree the gifted and thoughtful Rat? Well, I just have to take my chances. It hadn’t occurred to me that the phrase was considered meaningless. To me it has always seemed that the meaning was clear. To me the phrase seems to be saying, “Reality really does exist. We won’t pretend otherwise.” When we come upon a hard fact, instead of fibbing to ourselves, we have the option to admit the hard fact exists. Such honesty is admirable, especially in an era when lying is so prominent. So I have always thought that “It is what it is” represents a commitment to truth.
8/”Who could have guessed?”
The answer to that being, in many cases, almost anyone with a lick of common sense. This phrase is another one which resonates in our dishonest age. Here are two examples of how the phrase can be used.
A/The welfare state encourages people not to work, and destroys millions of lives as a result. “Who could have guessed?” Anyone who knew human nature could predict what would happen, so the question is satirical.
B/The U.S. involves itself in an open-ended war in Afghanistan trying to create a liberal humanist “democracy” which doesn’t fit well with the country’s Muslim consensus. Result: death and disaster for all concerned, as well as enormous financial loss. “Who could have guessed?” Reality-based (or even semi-based) people knew from the start, of course, that it was a doomed project.
This is a phrase which comes in handy time after time, because the people around us, especially the “elite” Powers That Be, are committed to living in a fantasy world. Bless their hearts, they get to run the country and destroy Christian civilization, so surely they won’t begrudge us occasionally saying, “Who could have guessed?”
Another version of the same idea is the shorter, but just as entertaining, “Who knew?” Again, everyone knew or could have known.
9/”You’ll thank me later.”
This is often uttered by the obsessive-compulsive detective Adrian Monk in the hit TV show “Monk,” which ran for eight seasons and is readily available as a DVD set. It is quite an enjoyable show.
Of course, no one ever thanks Monk later, because what he is requesting is invariably unreasonable. It seems to me that this phrase can be effectively and humorously used by all of us, as we try to persuade people that our requests are sensible. Which sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren’t.
10/”Don’t get your panties in a wad.”
This phrase encourages us not to get overly upset by the situation at hand. We’ve all experienced the discomfort of having our underwear (male version for males, and female version for females, hopefully) bunch up. We should not give in and let the wad continue; we can straighten out our underwear.
The use of the female version of underwear, in the phrase, instead of the male version, can be seen as an insult to the female race. Thus this phrase is probably completely incorrect politically, and I am a mean person for allowing myself to be entertained by the phrase. I plead guilty as charged. But admit it, it wouldn’t be as funny using the male version in the phrase.
11/”Thou art the man!”
We know the origin of this sentence. It comes from the Bible. It is from 2 Samuel 12:7. What happened was, King David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. The prophet Nathan found out about this (perhaps was told by God), and God sent Nathan to David. Nathan told David a parable in which a rich man slaughtered a poor man’s beloved ewe. David was very angry with the behavior of the rich man and said that he deserved to die.
Nathan told him, “Thou art the man!” In short, David was the equivalent of the rich man in the parable. It was the powerful and rich King David who had seduced Uriah’s wife. Then, to top things off, David had also had Uriah murdered. David finally recognized his sin at this late date, but only after Nathan’s presentation to him. The whole sordid story is covered in two chapters of the Bible, 2 Samuel 11-12.
It is fascinating how the intelligent David was so blind to his own iniquity. He was furiously angry with the fictional rich man, but had not drawn the connection to his own behavior. Nathan had to tell him straight out, “Thou art the man!”
This is a warning to us. We are often blind to our own wrongdoing. How many times will God have to tell us, “Thou art the man!” before we learn to avoid the comment by refusing to sin?
13/”It’s better than a poke in the eye with a hot stick.”
I learned this phrase from my father. I’m sure he made no claim to have created it. It expresses a common sense response to a situation which is far from ideal, but not too bad on the whole. It is an encouragement to look on the bright side, to be grateful for the blessings we receive.
I often use this phrase when evaluating the results of the professional golfers I follow. Very often they will win relatively small amounts of money in golf tournaments. One might win $8,000.00, when a few shots’ better play would have allowed him to win serious money in the range of $30,000.00 to $50,000.00. In such a situation, it behooves us to recognize that winning $8K is not exactly a terrible thing for four days’ work. “It’s better than a poke in the eye with a hot stick.” By a wide margin.
In fact, much of what we experience is life is better than a poke in the eye with a hot stick.
13/”The Fuhrer remains calm and confident.”
I owe this entertaining phrase to my brother. Approximately 40 years ago he was reading about Germany at the end of World War II. Things were going really badly in the war, and the end was near. But the German radio propaganda remained consistently upbeat. One thing they told the masses was, “The Fuhrer remains calm and confident.”
A few weeks or days later the calm and confident Fuhrer blew his own brains out in order to avoid being captured by the Soviet Union.
My brother told me about his discovery of that delicious phrase, and I have treasured it ever since.
The potential applications are endless, in our life both personal and public.
14/”See you later, alligator; after while, crocodile.”
I don’t know if Bill Haley and the Comets created this phrase, but they made it famous in 1956. Here is the song:
Our family has never lost track of this phrase. When leaving, we might just say, “Alligator.” Or perhaps, feeling adventurous, “Crocodile.”
15/”A tie is like kicking your sister.”
This is a play on the more famous phrase, “A tie is like kissing your sister.” The idea being that a tie is not very satisfactory. Kissing one’s sister is not as satisfactory as kissing a female who is not one’s sister. The phrase was created by a football coach who didn’t like the idea of a game ending in a tie. Winning was what was really enjoyable.
Somehow I was inspired to create a variation on the famous phrase. It just came to me one day, many decades ago. I suppose in a way it reflects my own favorable attitude toward ties. A tie may not be complete success, but it isn’t all that bad either–it’s better than a poke in the eye with a hot stick–when compared with a loss.
Kicking your sister may not be ideal, but it has its charms, especially if one is frustrated with one’s sister.
Unfortunately, “A tie is like kicking your sister” has never caught on worldwide, but it is not too late for the world to make amends and begin using it often. Just remember that you heard it here first, so that I can have my quarter hour of fame.
That concludes part II of phrases which have entertained me. I hope there will be a part III next week.