BUT . . .

The most powerful word in the English language is “but.”  It’s a grammatical Liam Neeson with a very particular set of skills that kicks ass.  It’s way better than that greedy little “and” who’s always looking for something extra the minute he shows up.  And, don’t get me started on “or:” grammar’s Hamlet, who couldn’t make a decision if his life depended on it.  No, for sheer conjunctional word power, go with “but” every time.  Here’s why:

1 – “but” sugarcoats the punch in the face — When you want to rip somebody a new one but you don’t want them to get so angry they go home and get a shotgun, throw in a “but.”  For example: “Jennifer, you are one of our most valued employees, conscientious and hard-working, BUT you have the math skills of a goat, and if you don’t get with it, I’m going to fire you so hard your grandchildren will be unemployed.”

2 – “but” pleads your case — When you know you screwed up and you’re looking around for something else to blame, use “but.”  Once again: “I know I drove your car into the side of that guy’s house, BUT you didn’t tell me it had sticky brakes when I borrowed it.”

And if you play #2 correctly…

3 – “but” can even get you off the hook — “Normally, I’d pay for the repairs to your car, BUT if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have ever known about those bad brakes.  Actually, I did you a big favour.”

Also

4 – “but” lets us look on the bright side — When your situation seems about as bleak as the slums of Mordor, try “but” to turn the lemon into lemonade.  “Hey, bro!  Sorry I had sex with your wife and your little sister last month after your birthday party, BUT they both phoned today, and guess what?  They’re not pregnant.  Cool, huh?”

And finally the most badass tool of all:

5 – nothing important ever gets said until someone says “but.” — In any conversation, discussion or argument, you can discount everything that’s said before “but.”  In fact, you don’t even have to listen.  Check it out:

“I understand your point of view, but only the part that happened before you opened your mouth.”
“Of course I agree, but not enough to quit arguing with you.”
“That’s an interesting opinion, but I’m not all that familiar with LooneyTunes cartoons.”
“Certainly, this current refugee problem is a crisis of biblical proportion and Western governments have a moral obligation to offer as much assistance as possible but what are all these gypsies, tramps and thieves doing in my country?”
“I like pasta, too, but there’s no way I’m eating that Italian glue tonight.”
“I’m not a racist but, man, those people are weird.”
“I love you dearly, but if you leave the toilet seat up one more time, I’m going to shoot you in the head.”
Etc. etc. etc.

So here’s to you, “but,” you sassy little conjunction!  Thanks for always being there for us.

Originally written November, 2015

Everybody’s Talking …

English is a wonderful language.  It can be as precise as a surgeon’s scalpel or as broad as a two-handed claymore.  It can describe anything or leave everything to your imagination.  In fact, English is so kickass we can say things without ever actually even saying them!  For example, when your wife/girlfriend says, “Are you going to wear that?” you know she’s really saying, “There is no way in Hell you’re leaving this house dressed like that.”  It’s a beautiful bit of linguistic gymnastics that people use all the time.  Here are a few more examples.  (With translations.)

“Sorry I’m late.”
Translation — I hate these morning meeting, I hate this job and I hate you.  The only reason I even dragged my sorry ass out of bed is I’ve got a car payment and a massive student loan hanging over my head.

“I know I’m only going to be gone for a couple of days, but I’m really going to miss you.”
Translation — Any chance of having sex before I leave?

“No offence …”
Translation — I’m going to offend you.

“… no offence.”
Translation — I’m covering my ass just in case I’ve already offended you.

“I’m vegan.”
Translation — I want to talk about me.

“I don’t judge.”
Translation — What you just told me is totally weird, and it caught me completely off guard.  So, rather than saying something unfortunate and sounding like an insensitive jerk, I’m going to shut up now and hope you change the subject.

“Do you need any help?”
Translation — Please, please, please, please, for the love of God, please– say no.

“Do these jeans make me look fat?”
Translation — I’ve spent all day dealing with perky salesgirls, women’s sizes are works of fiction, nobody has any decent colours and my bra is cutting me in half.  The least you could do is take 5 seconds and tell me I’m sexy.

“It’s really not that bad.”
Translation – Wow!  Are you ever screwed!

“That’s okay: I’m a good listener.”
Translation — This is the longest sob story in history.  Now I know how Mandela felt.

“My children are my whole life.”
Translation — Five minutes!  All I want is five minutes.  I haven’t even gone to the toilet in peace in 2 years.  Five minutes!  Is that too much to ask?

“I’ll remember that.”
Translation — I’m too busy/lazy to write this down, and I’m going to kick myself in a couple of days.

“We’ve put together a pretty solid financial plan that will get us out of debt in a couple of years.”
Translation — The grandparents haven’t died yet.

“Have you lost weight?”
Translation — Call me scum, but I’m so glad you’re fatter than I am.

“I’m a people person.”
Translation — I don’t have any marketable skills.

And finally one of the most common ones:

“We need to get together/do lunch/go for drinks, soon/more often/sometime in the vague future.”
Translation — We’re connected by circumstances and you seem like a nice person, so let’s play pretend for a few minutes — until we can go back to our real lives.

Definitions For Our Time!

Aside from fire and Velcro, language is the most useful tool humans have ever produced.  Once we went beyond grunting and growling, we were able to communicate complex ideas with a precision that made us the dominant species on this planet.  Unfortunately, these days we’re not playing nice with our words, and they’re losing their effectiveness.  We’ve taken to manipulating the language to try and give words extra meaning that they don’t deserve – and it’s failing miserably.  Here are a few contemporary words (we’ve all heard thousands of times – a day) that are supposed to carry a connotative punch – but they don’t – because we all know what they really mean.

1 — White Privilege – A bunch of privileged white people calling other white people “privileged” as if they did it on purpose just to be assholes.

2 — Twitter – A virtual stick that we beat people with until they agree not to disagree.

3 — Instagram – An historical record of just how culturally shallow we are in the 21st century.

4 – Facebook – Instagram for old people.

5 — Woke – “I live on a higher plane of consciousness than you do.”

6 — Virtue Signaling – This is how you know I live on a higher plane of consciousness than you do.

7 — Hate – Criticism you don’t like. “She said these jeans make me look fat.  She’s always been a hater!”

8 — Support – Criticism you do like.  “She said these jeans made me look curvy.  She’s always been supportive!”

9 — Brave – We’ve been using this word for everything from telling our daughters we’re gay to wearing pink chiffon, yoga pants and a hoodie.  Essentially, we’ve devalued the currency of this term so completely nobody even hears it anymore. (Remember what happened to “hero”?)

10 — Clicktivist – There is no IRL equivalent to this made-up cyberword.  The closest I can find is smug.

11 — Gluten Free – What we’ve been doing to safeguard our health — instead of finding a cure for cancer.

12 — Content Warning – The latest lame-ass attempt to keep the cybermob quiet.  We use it because — in the great tennis match between the eagerly offended and the immediately placated — the offended crowd upped the ante and declared that “trigger warning” itself was actually a trigger.  Go figure!

13 — Conversation – As in “We need to have a conversation about that.”  And it means: I’ll do the talking, and if you don’t shut up and agree, I’ll go Twitter (see Item #2) on your ass.  Not to be confused with “dialogue” which is too yesterday to be taken seriously.

14 — Issues – Problems that can’t possibly be solved.  A handy way to maintain perpetual victim status.

15 – Giving Back – The stuff rich people do when they are a) “woke” (see item #5) b) “virtue signaling (see item #6) and c) have some time on their hands.

16 – Awareness – Wasting time stating the obvious.  Does anybody know anybody who isn’t aware of inequality?

17 — Authentic – Social media sincerity that takes a ton of careful planning.

18 — Shaming – No, I’m not going to go there.

19 – Toxic – I don’t like this, and I’ve decided that nobody else should like it either.

And finally the one that demonstrates just exactly how easily the language can be manipulated:

20 – ‘Splaining – Add any prefix you want (man, age, size, eco, etc.) and you can get pissed off about it.