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Clichés I Don’t Get

November 30, 2013

Crows flying to the light. May be used as conceptual idea.

So what if we did go as the crow flies? That’s supposed to mean going to our destination in a straight line, right? Well, I don’t know what kind of myopic crows you have flying around in your neighborhood, but in mine, those suckers muck about in circles. They drop from one high branch down to the grass. They squawk at a squirrel or each other and then it’s back up to a branch. From there, it’s circle city. Going somewhere as a crow flies is to never get there at all. Unless where you’re going is exactly where you were ten seconds ago and maybe where you’ll be ten seconds later. If that’s the case, then be my murdering guest.


Or what about knowing something like the back of your hand? I like to think I know a lot of my own body parts fairly well. I could get into this further, but let’s suffice it to say that I’m pretty knowledgeable about all kinds of places on my body. Visually, I have a really good understanding of my right knee. [Long story…]  My tongue is a practiced inhabitant of the inside of my mouth and it knows the back of my teeth better than my dentist. I have some serious knowledge of my left ankle–having recently broken it–and know what it looks like from the inside out. The back of my hand, on the other hand, is, well, kind of tight-lipped, a cards close-to-the-chest loner who avoids eye-contact, ducks my invitations to lunch, and seems always on the verge of walking the other way down a long hallway when it’s just the two of us.

Next, I’m not going to say “drunk as a skunk.” indexI’ve partied with a few skunks in my time so I understand the wisdom in the phrase. Plus, drunk and skunk rhyme. That’s awesome! And I mean that in the literal sense, like it strikes fear and terror in my heart.

No, the phrase that’s even more awesome than that–in the literal sense still–and which results in a cliché that I simply don’t get is killing two birds with one stone. Now I think I get the thing about two birds in a bush and one in the hanGreat-Horned-Owl-flat-best-d. Although even for this bird maneuver, I think it all depends on the bird. If the one in my hand is ferocious, like a Great Horned Owl, I’m letting that sucker go. I don’t care what the birds in the bush are. They can stay in that bush for all I care.

Then again, that all depends on the bush, too. I mean, what if they are in a bush in your office or your living room, or in your kid’s nursery? In those cases, I think you’re going in. Unless they are two Great Horned Owls! Great-Horned-Owl-flat-best-Great-Horned-Owl-flat-best-

In that case, those suckers can park their spooky horned faces in that bush for all eternity for all I care.

But this isn’t the cliché that really disturbs me. The one that irks me is the one about killing two birds with one stone. I mean, who coined this one? A bunch of bird killers! Who hates birds that much?

Don’t get me wrong. Fried chicken is delicious. If I had to throw a stone at a chicken to experience the succulence that is fried chicken I’m slinging more rock than the inflated self-portrait of a white rapper desperate for street cred. But we tend to distinguish between chicken and other birds, don’t we? It’s to the point now that no advertisements for KFC ever even use the term 14358443-sparrows-and-pigeons-pecking-at-spilled-millet“chicken” to sell their “chicken” anymore and we all know that’s not because the stuff they’re selling isn’t chicken, right? I mean, what else could it be? Some chemically mutated food product that no longer derives from an animal remotely related to chicken? Clearly, no. Clearly, the birds we are all supposed to be killing in the cliché are not succulent fried chickens in a state of delicious creaturely incipience.  Rather, they are birds. Common birds.  Pigeons or sparrows. They are blue collar birds, who probably refer to one another–if birdsong could be translated into American patois–as boids. As in, hey, whatta yous boids up to?

All this takes me back to the imaginary scene of the crime with that cliché. Why do I want to kill these poor feathered commoners? And why so efficiently? Are the stones so valuable? What are these bird-killing stones made out of anyways? Gold? And what did the boids ever do to me? Why am I supposed to get all David in the presence of these tiny chirping Goliaths?

Whoever invented that cliché is sick. I’m talking twisted. The kind of twisted that gets off on doing mean things to the defenseless. The kind of sicko who’d celebrate an easy theft–as taking candy from a baby– or who’d experience an un-boring existence as conceptual murder — as killing time — or another’s pensiveness as a gruesome attack —cat got your tongue? 

Whoever that person was he was a real oddball, that’s for sure. But then again, why would anyone want to repeat the ravings of an outlier or a fool? No, that can’t be. These sayings took hold because they bespoke the warped consciousness of a whole people during the infancy of the social contract. Do you want to see civilization’s baby pictures? Take a long cold hard look at a cliché and then say goo-goo gah-gah.

And to think, I nearly thought something so obtuse as there being a single man who coined most of the clichés that we still use… How stupid is that? Such an enormous hustler never lived who could pull that off! Slide1

From → Surreal Rants

  1. Haha enjoyed this and the linear logic. I always get fascinated by the various sayings in English language and where they originated from.

    ‘Talk the hind legs off a donkey’ for example. In what capacity would this even be remotely feasible? Why not an elephant? or a dog? Anything with smaller legs?

  2. I am laughing out loud at your post. I hate cliches. They are boring but you offered a new perspective. Thanks for letting us “walk a mile in your shoes..” Oh dear…..

    • Oh I know. And what would you know about me after that mile, except for every grueling centimeter of difference between my shoe size and yours? Walking three steps in shoes that don’t fit is enough for me to get the picture. After a mile, I’d be ready for the looney bin!

  3. Thanks for letting me “walk a mile in your shoes…” Oh dear. Yes, cliches often make no sense.
    I’m laughing with your post. Very funny. Thank you. Kaye

  4. so clever… really enjoy your writing

  5. This was a delightful read. Chuckled all the way to that bird on the fence and back again. Thank you.

  6. Love it, you Pied Piper! I will follow, follow, follow… (And thanks for the “like,” too.)

  7. This is a great post, Mike, extremely funny and spot on. Allow me however, to risk a guess pertaining to those two birds; I suspect it was coined by a gentleman, at a bar in a drunken stupor while forging plans for a threesome with the ‘two birds’ on the other side! Now, the back of my hand thing probably derives from sexual self pleasure…again, a man. Ain’t we clever!

  8. I won’t bother to read another thing for a while – it would pale to this.
    And I’ll never read another cliche without grinning.
    Thanks for a hearty laugh.

  9. I had so much fun reading this that I decided to make it part of my Let’s Talk Opinion series. Here’s the link:
    Hope it brings a chuckle to your day too 😀

  10. Great post. I really enjoyed it.

    I think a lot (and have written) about cliches, too. And it’s not surprising that there are others who would tackle this subject because, after all, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

  11. I am sure the entire bird species is oozing with gratitude.Finally someone understood their plight! loved reading this:D

  12. currankentucky permalink

    Suckin diesel through a straw… go away outta that… you’re havin a laugh… Sit in any rural pub here, and your list will grow!!

    • I’d love to–one day I will, just for the language research, not for the endless beer I’d wash it down with, of course.

      • currankentucky permalink

        It certainly would be an education. Years could be spent on such research.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Clichés | Avoid them like the plague! | vic briggs
  2. November’s Darlings | vic briggs

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