How Do I Braise Thee?
They make me madder 'n a wet hen. Cliches. I must've seen a million of 'em, and at the risk of flogging a dead horse about it, I'm about ready to go ballistic...
OK, they do creep into my language once in a blue moon (heh), but, at least in writing, I try to keep them to a minimum. It bespeaks at least laziness, if not a genuine poverty of metaphor. (Oddly, the poverty of metaphor hasn't seemed to hurt the likes of Danielle Steel or Tom Clancy much. They must have a "richness of simile" or something.)
One in particular drives me to distraction. (I know, I know.)
"At this point in time."
This usually comes from politicians, PR flacks, bureaucrats, etc., who, I suspect, are paid by the word to sound off at length and with authority, while in truth saying as little as possible.
To deconstruct: Something can happen at this "point," or something can happen at this "time," but when something happens at this "point in time" it is high time to point out that I could just plotz.
But nevermind. Another corruption of the language has crawled upon the scene, and I am dutybound to remark it.
By which I refer to the lamentable habit that some have of tacking the phrase onto the end of whatever remotely-outrageous thing they have said, or think they might have said, or wish they hadn't said at all. An example or two:
"Women sure are lousy drivers . . . [brightly] Just kidding!"
"I say, let's kill them [insert favorite race, religion, sex] all . . . [brightly] Just kidding!"
This never works. You'd have to have the timing of Jack Benny and the chutzpah of Lenny Bruce to carry it off.
I understand what people are up against in this brave new PC world. There is a palpable floating fear that something one says, no matter how subtle or well-intentioned, will be misunderstood or torqued out of recognition by the leagues of the Perpetually Offended.
With real consequences. I recall the Washington, D.C. (city manager?) man who used the word "niggardly" in a presentation and was forced to resign when some illiterate in the audience complained. (I believe he was reinstated a few days later when the Post and Times started to rain down ridicule, always the best PC [and D.C.] disinfectant.)
This "Just kidding!" is the tic, the flinch of our age. You never know when some moron KGB-wannabe is hovering just in earshot waiting to dispatch you to the GULAG.
So like minor Soviet poets, we giggle at the edges of ideas and fire off that exculpatory flare, "Just kidding!"
Not for me, this krepnechz prutzkov. I say what I mean, and I mean what I say.
When I say, "Let's kill all the [insert favorite race, religion, sex]!"
I mean, "Let's kill all the [insert favorite race, religion, sex]!"
I am serious.