Someone once said ‘Into every life a little rain must fall’. I can see how this works as a ‘we’re all in the same boat so buck up‘ kind of statement.
However, Dolly Parton took the monsoon metaphor too far, beating it to death when she spouted ‘If you want the rainbow you have to put up with the rain’. That’s on a par with ‘If you want the diarrhea you have to put up with the dodgy kebab.’
Now I like a good rainbow as much as the next person but it’s hard to adhere to the rantings of a woman who couldn’t even kick that trollope Jolene into touch.
There’s just certain ways of expressing stuff. I work with a lot of younger people at the moment. In fact I could have fathered most of them (though if I had done, I’d never have had the time to wash my smalls). Anyway, I do sometimes wonder how I’m being perceived by my colleagues. ‘Cool, ageless, older brother figure’ I’ll accept. ‘Flatulent, feckless old uncle figure’ I will not. I’m so hip I’m practically unhip and totally down with the kids – though when they say something’s ‘sick’ I still want to locate the first aid kit…
Mind you, how people view us is a bigger deal than we may realise. A while back I wandered into the Disney store (when I indicated before that I was down with the kids, I really meant ‘kids’). I am not ashamed to admit I was eyeing up a Miss Piggy mug despite being initially drawn towards the Animal backpack.
I took my mug to the counter and the jolly girl serving said ‘Aww, how old is your little girl? She’s going to love this.’ I should just have said that the mug was for me but what I heard myself saying was ‘Oh, well, er Molly’s going to be 7 next week’…and it didn’t stop there. I begain to enjoy having an imaginary daughter (they’re so little fuss) and by the end of the conversation Molly had just had braces fitted, come top in spelling and won a 2nd place rosette at her first gymkhana. Yep, I have an imaginary pony as well.
It’s easy to get yourself verbally tied up in knots though. One time I was just leaving the Doctor’s surgery when a woman came up to me with her son and asked where the toilets were as the kid was in need. I told her that the gents were right behind her. She looked at me blankly and asked again where the toilets were. I pointed to the door directly behind her with the little man sign on and repeated that they were over there. Her voice suddenly went stern, declaring ‘my child is a little girl.’ Realising that there was no way back from this unintentional faux pas I went for the honest response ‘Wow, she’s really boyish isn’t she?’ then legged it to the lift ASAP.
Is honestly always the best policy though? When a friend asks how they look in a new outfit do you always say flattering things even if the garment gives them an arse the size of the Titanic? Personally, I want to know if I’m adopting the mutton dressed as lamb look or if my deoderant isn’t fullfilling its promise.
There are ways of saying it…and ways of not. Like those skin crawlingly uncomfortable TV ‘talent’ auditions where the obligatory nasty panellist writes their unpleasant comments off as merely ‘telling it like it is‘. Says who? You can offer a bit of tough love without being downright rude. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to make for massive TV ratings.
My favourite misconception with language comes via a classic Scots joke. A woman is being propositioned by a randy waiter in a restaurant…
Waiter: ‘Would you like some super sex?‘
Woman: ‘I’ll have the soup please.’