William A. Gralnick
Remember “Valley Girl” talk? I hope not. It was so annoying you’d want to put your elbows in your ears when it came sash-shaying through the air at you.
Then there was “like.” It’s still with us. It turns every third word of a sentence into a simile. “I mean, it’s like…” Gag me with a spoon. Worst of all, the youngsters who grew into professionals, particularly broadcasters, have now salted it into their reporting. If a script isn’t being read, likes will abound. “Like where’s my earwax when I need it!”
Next comes, “you know?” ‘makes me insane. If I knew, why would you be telling me, or v.v.? As Jane Goodman, famous radio comedienne of the 40’s would say, “You could knock me over with a feather.” everytime I hear it. Ba da boom.
But we are not done. Here comes the the latest ridiculous addition to our sentences, the exclamatory statement. Here’s a run up to it. When I meet with someone, as do most civil human beings, I ask, “How are you?” Except in a few cases, like most people asking the question, I don’t really care. I’m being polite. There are some who foolishly think you’re asking for a ten year medical history and give it to you. Most say, “Fine, thank you.” and add, “How ’bout you?” And in short order the encounter ends or the parties get on to a conversation.
I will bet you that ensuing conversation, if it has any length to it, will contain a bunch of the next make-me–crazy statements. Its the answer to a question with, “Yeah–no…” Close behind come , “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” or Yeah–no, yeah–no, yeah no. I can’t go on. Talking about the insensibility of these phrases makes my knees weak.
On occasion, I get pulled up short by receiving, instead of “fine” for an answer, some over-the-top exclamation of wonderfulness. “How are you?” Answers: wonderful, stupendous, couldn’t be better, G-d has been good to me, great, outrageously good, fan——tastic!, And so on. Feel free to add your own. These responses make me ruminate. Why don’t I feel that way or answer that way? Mostly it is because I don’t feel that way and I have my suspicion the other person doesn’t either. My stock answer is this: “That’s wonderful. I aspire to (fill in the blank), but I haven’t gotten there quite yet.”
My antenae being tuned to search out such things, I’ve noticed a new one. It is a word spreading into every corner to conversation theway forest fires and finding there ways into the forestlands of the nation. And it annoys me no end. The word? PERFECT!
I’ve met a lot of people in my life, some ordinary, some right out of the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” and some really famous in their fields of endeavor. I’ve never met one who is perfect. But it gets worse.
You call a call center to order something or fill out of form for something. You may not be able to understand what the person is saying, but after each of your responses you can hear “perfect” loud and clear.
“Are you ready to begin, Mr. Gralnick?
Yes I am.
“Please give me your contact in formation.
(I repeat my name, address, phone numbers).
I know it’s perfect, its my information. Grrrrr
I went into a store last week to buy a shirt. I was met by a salesperson who asked, “What are you looking for, today?” I said, “a shirt.” She said…, “perfect.” They didn’t have it but said it might be in next week. I said, “Maybe I’ll stop back.”……….join with me in the chorus: PERFECT!”
Rather than whip-saw you with a dozen of these kinds of interplays let me say, I believe there is either a training school, or at least a course in school, that inserts a chip into its students. When you graduate, the final exam is listening to a question. To pass requires the instantaneous response of, “perfect!”
We here in the colonies need something like the English and the French have. It is a formal institution that decides how the language is to be spoken. If we had one of those and it would scrub out the non-sensical words and phrases we use with no apparent awareness of how non-sensical they are, it would be–well–perfect–at least from my perspective.
Some things, many of little importance, make people crazy. Bill was in the mood to share his craziness with you… For other craziness don’t forget, “The War of the Itchy Balls and other Notes From Brooklyn” and “George Washington Didn’t Sleep Here.” Both await you on Amazon.com. In the meantime, please pass the pills and a glass of water, if possible.