On Clichés

Brad Goins Thursday, August 1, 2013 0
On Clichés

Wazzup? Hey, is it hot enough for you?

I think I wrote another File 13 about clichés a long time ago. But I always say, if something is worth saying once, it’s worth saying twice. Am I right or am I right?

Hey, you know, there are two kinds of people in the world: the kind who say there are two kinds of people in the world and the kind who don’t.

Naw, I’m just picking at you. But all seriousness aside, there are two kinds of people in the world: the kind who hate clichés and the kind who don’t mind them.

To the people who hate clichés, I would just say that those old sayings often contain a grain of wisdom. That’s why people keep saying them.

But how do we know whether a cliché has wisdom in it? I would say that a cliché has wisdom in it if it’s right.

But how do we know if it’s right? Well, I’d say we know it’s right if it’s good. So right is good and good is right and always the twain shall meet. LOL.

Well, let’s try it with a cliché. A stitch in time saves nine. Is it good? You bet. Is it right? Damn straight. So we can conclude that it has wisdom, period, end of discussion.

Let’s try it with another one. Freedom isn’t free. I don’t really think freedom isn’t free is a cliché. But I had a brainiac once tell me it was, so I’ll use it as an example.

Freedom isn’t free. Is it good? You can bet your bottom dollar on it. Is it right? You can take it to the bank.

But let’s suppose that some egghead from the university says to me, “Freedom is by definition the state of being free. Therefore, while something that isn’t free may be a very grand thing, it can never be freedom.”

Well, let’s put it to the test. Freedom isn’t free. Is the statement good? Is three a crowd? Is it right? Is what’s good for the goose good for the gander?

So we’ve proved that freedom isn’t free is a cliché — or I would say a statement — that contains wisdom. And in addition to that proof, there’s the additional proof that some have given the ultimate sacrifice so that we can have the freedoms we have. So, again, I’d say that pretty much states the case, proves the point and closes the discussion. So that one’s done. You can stick a fork in it and turn it over. You can file it.

There’s also the evidence that any freedom worth having is worth dying for. Now, I can already anticipate that some of the anti-cliché people are going to say that if you’re dead, you can’t really have any freedom, except maybe the freedom of being dead, which, probably, isn’t really a freedom, strictly speaking. Let’s face it, anybody can form an argument against anything. But when you want to form an argument, you’ve got to stick to brass tacks.

Hey, here’s a really annoying cliché: people who say they don’t watch TV. I mean, come on! We all watch it. And we all love it. You know we do. Am I right or am I right?

People who say they don’t watch TV are almost always Yankees, aren’t they? What would you say a Yankee is? Somebody who lives north of Texarkana and east of Vicksburg? Works for me!

It’s not enough they say they don’t like TV. They say home entertainment centers are “garish” and “in bad taste” and “a horrible waste of time” and stuff like that. Oh, get a life!

People who don’t like TV are snobs. And they’re liberals. Have you noticed that? What I’ve noticed is that liberals will always say that conservatives are illogical, when in fact it’s obvious that the biggest problem with liberals is that they’re illogical.

Case in point: Just to prove I’m not illogical, I’ll form a syllogism. Bet you didn’t think I knew what a syllogism is, did you? How’s this: If a liberal doesn’t follow logic, then his thinking isn’t logical and therefore he is illogical.

I know that’s not a real syllogism. I mean, I wasn’t born yesterday. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. I know it’s not specific enough to be a real syllogism. So I’m going to get serious. Try this one on for size:

If the liberals love the French, and the French are all arrogant and rude and anti-American, then all liberals are illogical because it’s illogical to be arrogant and rude and anti-American.

Think you can refute that? Yeah, you and whose army?

I knew this conservative guy once … well, I think he was conservative, but sometimes I think he was just pulling my leg. Anyway, he said something to me once that was so logical I said, “Do me a favor and write that down, bro.” Here’s what he wrote:

“If a government exists, there is no logical imperative for the government to provide help of any kind to any person who is poor, homeless, mentally ill or elderly. We may hypothesize that a government that fails to provide such help is cruel or inhumane. But even these easily made assumptions could easily be challenged. The government could simply take the position that it took no stand at all on these matters because they do not pertain to the government.”

Food for thought, I say. Words of wisdom, like ‘em or not. Of course, I don’t really want to get rid of aid for people who are really, really poor. And I certainly don’t want to get rid of my Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. Why should I? I paid for them, didn’t I? Didn’t I pay into the system? I did my part. Don’t I deserve my share? I deserve more than that if you get right down to it. I deserve that much just for being a human being. I mean, just existing is special. Every human being is precious. I’m valuable just by virtue of my being a breathing, living thing. Life is immeasurable. It’s the most valuable thing there is. You can’t put a price on it.

Truth to tell, I do like some of the things liberals do. I don’t tell my buds, of course. But the liberals are the ones who take care of the whales and the people in Tibet and all the rest of it. I’m not going to do a thing about that stuff. But I’m glad somebody is.

Why? Karma. Karma means if you don’t take care of the whales, something bad is going to happen to you. What’s the evidence? Check this out: What goes around comes around.

Still, you’ve got to stand by your principles. I always say that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. And I know what I stand for. Values. And I know what my values are. Truth, justice, freedom and humanity.

I think sometimes you’ve just pretty much got to use clichés as a kind of shortcut. I mean, you don’t explain how a clock works every time you tell somebody what time it is do you?

I notice it’s not possible to analyze every little thing right down to the point that every little detail is crystal clear and I’ve got it all figured out. Sometimes it’s just not clear. Sometimes I’ve got to go with the flow. But that’s no reason to be discouraged. Hey, I don’t know why the idea of being discouraged even came to me. Earth to Brad! Whatever! I mean, what was all that about? Like, asdf.

I know I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. On the other hand, I’m certainly not a nerd or a dweeb or a hipster or a hater or a loser of any type. And I don’t whine. I say, if you can’t say something good about a thing, don’t say anything at all. If you want to keep on track, keep positive. If you don’t force yourself to stay positive when you feel bad, you’re just making it worse for yourself in the long run, and for no reason, I might add. So hang in there. Never give up. You want to know how to win in the game of life? Smile.

Are there any good ways for us to make ourselves be positive? Hmm. How about … count your blessings? That’ll work.

What else? Stay closer to family than to your enemies? Works for me.

Remember, life is good. Life’s a beach. It’s sweet. And it sure beats the alternative, huh?

I know, of course, that while I don’t mind clichés that much, there’s a group of folks who don’t like them. One way to tell who’s in the group is to notice who makes fun of clichés. For instance, in the movie Loaded Weapon 1, there are two guys who have this discussion:

Gen. Mortars: Where’s the microfilm, Mike?

Mike McCracken: I don’t know, I gave it to York. I thought she was one of your men.

Mortars: Act in haste, repent in leisure.

McCracken: But he who hesitates is lost.

Mortars: Never judge a book by its cover.

McCracken: What you see is what you get.

Mortars: Loose lips sink ships.

McCracken: Life is very short, and there’s no time for fussing or fighting, my friend.

Mortars: Sorry Mike, no good.

I guess that’s kind of a playful, not too harmful, satire of clichés, which is what you’d expect from a comedy. But of course there’s also the sad part at the end of the serious movie Monster when Aileen Wuornos lists all the clichés. “Love conquers all. Every cloud has a silver lining. Faith can move mountains. Love will always find a way. Everything happens for a reason. Where there’s life, there’s hope.” Then she laughs and says, “Oh, well. They gotta tell you somethin’.”

I guess that was OK because she was serious and in a bad way. After all, necessity makes a mother of invention. But what about this smart aleck Bruce Springsteen? Have you ever heard his song “My Best Was Never Good Enough”? He sings stuff like:

“If God gives you nothin’ but lemons, then you make some lemonade.

“The early bird catches the [dirty word] worm. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

“Now life’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

“Stupid is as stupid does, and all the rest of that [dirty word].

“Come on pretty baby, call my bluff.

“’Cause for you, my best was never good enough.”

Zoinks! That guy really, really hates clichés. In fact, I think you could call him a hater. And you know, haters be hatin’. Haters gonna hate. Know what I’m sayin’? On the other hand, I gotta admit I always did hate that “Life is like a box of chocolates” with a passion. I hated that sucka from day one. I’m not going to lie to you. I hope that doesn’t make me a hater.

It’s occurred to me that lines of popular songs or even song titles might be clichés in and of themselves. For instance, there’s some pop act or country radio act or country pop radio act called Thomspon Square that recorded a song called “If I Didn’t Have You.” It’s got lyrics like:

“Sometimes, sunshine gets lost in the rain.”

“I couldn’t live without you, baby. I wouldn’t want to.”

“You are my heart, every breath I breathe.”

“You were made for me.”

Do you think these guys were really trying to write lyrics for a song or were they just trying to list clichés like Bruce Springsfield did? I have never been able to figure it out. C’est la vie.

One day a while back, I found myself in an odd mood, and I started thinking something like this: “You know, if we just stopped using clichés altogether, would we be able to talk? Would we be able to come up with the phrases we’d need to communicate with each other? Would we even be able to think?”

Boy, am I in over my head with that! I mean, I’m just treading water. Dog paddling. I guess it’s like they say: Still waters run deep.

One thing I would say for sure is that even if you love to use clichés, you shouldn’t be hard on yourself. Don’t beat up on yourself. Remember that even if you use clichés, you’re special. You’re special because you’re unique and good and full of the special qualities that make you you. You’re special because you’re you. Never forget that you’re good and right and solid and true. Reach! Grow! Expand! Breathe! Onwards and upwards. Damn the torpedoes and never say die. You’re going to be just fine. We all are. We just have to keep reaching for that dream — that crazy, beautiful, glorious, shining, glowing, wild dream!

Works for me!