Category Archives: what people say

Two people and a ham

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Ham, also known as eternity

A man by the name of Joe Clark—clever, Southern, a school teacher—says this is the definition of eternity. He was quoting someone, although he didn’t say who. Turns out, it’s Dorothy Parker, as verified by the The Paris Review, which goes on to call baked ham a “professional leftover.” Even better.

“It’s not just that hams are big—they were even more massive in Parker’s day than they are now—or that a little of the salty meat goes a long way. It’s also the fact that a ham goes immediately from a thing of festive beauty (cue pineapple rings, scored surfaces studded with cloves, glistening patina) to a professional leftover. It goes very gentle into that good night. And, because it is cured, and because it can be used in so many ways, and because you can always, always scrape more meat off that bone—well, you’re really never justified in throwing it away. It’s with you for eternity.”  

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“easier said than done”

What isn’t really?

File this under things people say that need not be said.

Another: “It is what it is.”

And: “Mistakes were made.” This passive-voice non-apology comes with the unsaid disclaimer “but not by me.” And today I learned this is the actual name of an actual book, by the psychologist Carol Tarvis: “Mistakes Were Made But Not By ME” (emphasis hers).

 

 

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Perfectly fine

This is something my dad would say: perfectly fine, perfectly good. This would describe, variously, a bruised apple, an expired pint of milk, a dinged-up pair of skis that were bought secondhand, made by an off brand using a bad font.

Perfect and fine are good words, describing good things. But together, coming from him, they connoted the opposite. Not ideal but eat it any way. Maybe spoiled, maybe not but drink it anyway. You’re lucky to be skiing at all, so what if the skis are from Sears.

I tell my daughter a story about how I felt on the ski mountain with my family. My Dad would make ham sandwiches that we would stuff in our ski suits in the morning, along with peanuts, left in the shells. The peanuts were for staving off hunger so we wouldn’t have to buy the overpriced food at the ski lodge. We’d eat them on the lifts, dropping the shells into the woods below. At some point, we’d clomp into the lodge in our off-brand ski boots, extract our skiied-on sammies from our ski suits and eat them, while looking longingly at the girls with their ski-lodge chili, with their fashionable skiwear, with their smooth ponytails (this rankled me, in particular, because my hair was frizzy). We felt, somehow, that we didn’t really belong at the same tables as the chili buyers.

When I had kids of my own, I bought the ski-lodge chili and the ski-lodge cocoa as well, and felt vindicated and deserving of my seat at the ski-lodge table. But in my mind, “ski lodge chili” is still a catchphrase for something that’s close, but out of reach. Something I can’t have. Another word, meaning the same thing: Friendish. Something your friends have that you don’t have. Examples: the freedom to pour dubious but not bad-smelling milk down the drain; plastic baggies with the little zippers, not the foldover flaps; swimming pools; central air.

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Nevertheless, she persisted (the t-shirt)

First a rebuke, then a rallying cry, now a t-shirt.

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Activism, by Fruit of the Loom

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“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Hell hath no fury like a woman silenced. Like Trump’s Nasty Woman putdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rebuke (and silencing) of Elizabeth Warren last night only fanned the flames of female fury. Here‘s how it went down: Warren began to read a letter from Coretta Scott King’s feelings about a prior Jeff Sessions’ appointment. McConnell objected to both the reading of the letter and to Warren’s history of outspokenness, even after she is asked to stop talking. Then came the line.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

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Instantly, this has become a rallying cry for women in government, in the workplace and in relationships to “persist” in the face of would-be male silencers. Writes Heidi Stevens for The Chicago Tribune:

“Just keep talking. Keep your pauses short. Maintain your momentum. No matter if he waves his hands, raises his voice or squirms in his chair, you do you.”

Or push back. “Bob, I wasn’t done finishing that point. Give me one more sec.”

Persist.

Sometimes the floor remains yours; sometimes you get rebuked and silenced by your colleagues.

But you say what needs to be said. And here and there, you inspire a rallying cry.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

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New Year’s Resolutions For Other People 2017

cwuntzgwiaafogfThis is an annual thing that’s a cross between complaining and wanting everyone to be slightly or significantly better human beings. Some of them are duplicates from last January because, it has become obvious, many people are not paying attention.

  1. To the people who share cars with me. Stop leaving this kind of thing in the car: the keys (we live in BRIDGEPORT now, ok?); coffee cups where my coffee cup wants to go but can’t because yours was left there; any all foodstuffs and the bags they came in; no gas.
  2.  To cashiers. Stop saying “following guest” when you mean “next guest.” It’s not fancier, if that’s what you’re thinking.
  3. To waiters: Stop saying “no problem” when you mean “you’re welcome.” It should be clear to both of us that pouring me a glass of water is not a problem.
  4. To adult children who come to visit, taking all the phone chargers when they leave. Stop doing that.
  5. To celebrity “news” writers. Stop using these words (italics mine):
  • Kendall Jenner slayed in her mesh mini. Also stop with the Kardashians entirely. We have tired of them.
  • We’re obsessed with Hiddleswift. Also stop mashing up celebrity couple names.
  •  Body After Baby. They have trainers, nutritionists and nannies. Also this fatshames women who carry weight after childbirth, which is, actually, normal.

5. To Donald Trump. Stop tweeting. There are so very many things you can’t change about yourself but here’s one you can.

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6. Manspreaders on MetroNorth. Because you’re taking up my portion of the seat I’ve paid dearly for and also because every year I must complain about MetroNorth.

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Have a Blessed Day

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Have a blessed day is the way they say goodbye in the South. Thank you, I said. You’re welcome, baby, she said.

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wordy

Just heard this word describing someone.

Wordy: hyper-articulate, a moderator of the proceedings, and a wall of sound who often offers text and subtext in a self-referential and nearly always self-reverential way. Now that was wordy!

That someone was actually a character on a Netflix series and the heroine chides him for talking too much (they’re in bed at the time). The smarty-pants characters in “well-written” television series are wordy in this way—Olivia Pope and her gladiators; the law students learning “How to Get Away With Murder.” I say “well-written” because these shows are characterized as such but I think “over written” is closer to the mark.

When I am nervous I often get wordy, and then I say to myself “stop talking Diane” and then I shut right up. Awkward and wordy, a bad combination.

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A Girl’s Guide to Office Brocabulary

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“Adorable” is the word Jennifer Lawrence uses to describe how women in business strive to sound. Wise beyond her years, the actress shared a story on Lenny Letter about how she was chided for speaking plainly to a male colleague. Her essay, a few weeks ago, kicked off a conversation about how “Woman in a Meeting” is a language all its own. Examples from The Washington Post, all of which I am guilty of: “This may be all wrong but…” and “Maybe? I don’t know? How does the room feel?”

Lawrence’s story:

I spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no-bullshit way …

Read more, right this way —>

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An Open Letter to Moms on Facebook With Above-Average Kids

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Dear Moms on Facebook With Above-Average Kids (hereafter referred to as MOF-WAACs),

Your children are unique in their accomplishments. They exceed in a wide range of sports: soccer, basketball, field hockey and then soccer again, but of the “travel team” variety. They are given baffling-to-me-and-perhaps-other-people-who-don’t-live-in-your-town awards like “regional,” “all-city” and “division champ” (I say choose one geographical designation and go with it, but I don’t live in your town.) They always get A’s, and you, as a MOF-WAAC, have never failed to photograph their report cards and upload them to Facebook with the hashtag #soproud. In fact, from their post-natal APGAR score (perfect 10s, scanned and uploaded) to their college diplomas (magna cum laude, ditto), they’ve done nothing but made you #soproud. One noteworthy example (and I’m not making this up): Your toddler photographed mid-defecation, straddling a low plastic toilet with the caption “First poop in a big-girl potty!” And the hashtag #poophappens. On this point I couldn’t agree more: Poop does happen. But ask yourselves, MOF-WAACs, do we need photos of it online?

Read more at: http://tuenight.com/2015/10/soproud-moms-on-facebook-we-need-to-talk/

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