Also, you’ll break an axle on the road less traveled by. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I was texting a friend of mine the other day, and he was being motivational (as he does, because, well, he’s full of the awesome) and he said something along the lines of “it is what it is.” Then he said, “but not that, because I hate that. My boss says that ALL THE TIME. And I hate that. It is SO STUPID.”

So that started me thinking (because listen, you can tell me one thing, and my brain goes in a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DIRECTION, it is INSANITY, or maybe BRILLIANCE, yeah, probably brilliance, I mean, who am I to argue with the path my brilliance chooses to take?) about platitudes, and proverbs, and motivational sayings, and the like.  Yes, yes, we talked about idioms once before, I KNOW THAT BUZZKILL MCGURK, THIS is DIFFERENT, so stop RUINING IT for EVERYONE, you’re totally the reason we can’t have nice things.

Sometimes you want to cheer someone up, or cheer someone on, because they are having a totally horrible day/week/month or whatever period of time is sucking for them. Some people do this with gifts; some people do this by visiting the person and being cheerful and helpful; some people do this by spouting nonsensical platitudes until you want to spin their head around until it pops off like the safety top of a tube of Krazy Glue.

Also? Most platitudes/proverbs are VERY VERY STUPID when you look at them closely. There are much better things you can say to someone who’s having a hard time of things than a regurgitated, overused, trite saying that’s been said so many times it stops having any meaning at all, like when you say the word “turtle” too many times and it starts sounding weird, like it’s not even a word at all anymore.

Let’s take a look at some, shall we? I chose some that are especially irritating to me, but I’m sure there are more. I’d be glad to dissect and snark at your least-favorite platitudes or proverbs for you, for a nominal fee, somewhere down the line. I’ll send you my PayPal address.

Cats wearing clothes will never not be funny to me.

It is what it is

What this is supposed to mean: “Don’t stress too much; there’s no point.” 

What this really means: “I’m a dumbo and I just spit out words like I’m a cheap whore of a word vending machine. Also, I don’t care one iota about whatever you’re telling me but I’m saying this to make it look like I do.”

This has become a thing recently, and it needs to stop now. It’s something that bosses say a lot, I’ve noticed. I think they might think it makes them look intelligent. SPOILER ALERT: it makes you look the opposite of that.

“I’ve lost my keys, my cat died, and my boyfriend’s cheating on me with a syphilis-ridden whore!” “Eh, you know. What can you do? It is what it is, Judy.”

“My mom just called. My brother’s been in a car accident! But I’ll lose my job if I take any more personal time!” “It is what it is, Fred. It is what it is.”

There’s never a time that saying this doesn’t make you sound like you’re bored out of your mind with whatever the person said to you. STOP SAYING IT. 

A better substitute: “That totally sucks. Who can I put a hit on for you to ameliorate this situation?”

Does that even LOOK dark to you? NO IT DOES NOT.

It’s always darkest before the dawn

What this is supposed to mean: “Just when it seems things are at their worst, they’re about to get better.” 

What this really means: “I have no idea how the world works, astronomically or meteorologically.”

This is wrong on two levels.

One, things DON’T always get magically better just when they’re at their worst. TRUST ME. Sometimes, what you think is the worst? Is just the teeniest, tiniest iceberg-tip of worst, and you’re about to get hit with MORE of that sucker. I mean yes, someday, things might get better. But don’t automatically assume, just because things seem like they’re at their absolute nadir, they’re about to make an uptick. That’s not always the case.

Two, I want to know on what part of the globe it’s darkest before the dawn. Right before the dawn, little fingerlets of dawn-light are peeping out. It’s that weird, almost sepia-toned light. It’s darker at 2am, honestly. Who even wrote this nonsense? The interwebs just tell me it’s an old proverb. UNHELPFUL INTERWEBS. I want to BLAME someone.

A better substitute: “What you’re going through is horrible. Can I bake you some cookies? Or possibly put a hit out on someone for you?”

I like that this is in quotes. Who is it quoting? God, probably. Probably God.

There but for the grace of God go I

What this is supposed to mean: “I should feel sympathy for that person; he or she could be me.”

What this really means: “I’m blessed by the Lord Almighty for my righteousness, while that poor sap is cursed, possibly because he spilled his seed, like Onan.”

People who are very religious say this (and I’m sure non-religious types, too, don’t want to be exclusionary), usually when an acquaintance is gossiping. “Did you hear? Dorothy’s husband was found asphyxiated in his closet wearing only a clown wig and her wedding dress!” “Aw, bless her heart. There but for the grace of God go I.”

Really, what you’re saying here is that God loves you, so he didn’t pass this judgment onto your head, while, conversely, he HATES that other person SO MUCH that he SMOTE him or her. That’s totally judgey of you, right? Who are you to say that God had a hand in that dude’s autoerotic asphyxiation? I think God took one look at that situation and was all “NOPE GROSS I AM OUT OF HERE CLOWN WIG HARRY” and went off to play Skee-Ball at the Jersey shore. (If you get that reference, I love you long time.)

A better substitute: “That sucks for Dorothy. You should stop gossiping, Myrtle. Or someone might let it drop you’ve been soaking your morning cornflakes with gin instead of milk every day. Just saying.”

Hands! Butterflies! Restful colors! I'm about to go into a LOVE COMA!

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it is yours. If it doesn’t, it was never yours to begin with.

What this is supposed to mean: “Don’t strangle people with love, it doesn’t work.”

What this really means: “I’m a dirty hippie! Peace, love, dope!”

I love my cats. I really, really love them. Like, crazy amounts. So when I get home, I think I’ll just open my front door, because they’re really curious about the world out there. If they come back, THEY ARE MINE.

I also totally love The Nephew. So I’m going to ask his mom if I can take him shopping when I go home for Christmas. Then I’m going to abandon him in the middle of Kmart, and go out to the car and wait for him to come to me. I’m pretty sure he will. He’s a pretty smart toddler. When he does, HE IS MINE.

What the hell with this saying? I think it’s from that horrible Love Story novel that makes me throw up in my mouth from all of the sap. I mean, I get don’t be too needy and strangly (well, no, I don’t GET it, I totally DO it, I get the SENTIMENT behind it, it doesn’t mean I’ve ABSORBED it) but I’m supposed to, what, tell my true love (is it the same asshat who was buying me all those birds the other day?) to go out and grind on a stripper, and if he comes back, THIS IS MINE I KEEP THIS NOW? Eff that.

A better substitute: If you love something, let it know you love it. If it doesn’t love you back, punch it in the neck super-hard and then drink a lot of wine and listen to Martha Wainwright’s “Bloody Motherfucking Asshole” on repeat for a week or so. All will be well, my little butterbean.

I don't think that's true. I think every cloud has MORE CLOUD as the lining.

Always look on the bright side/every cloud has a silver lining/when God closes a window, he opens a door

What these are supposed to mean: “Cheer up, peanut, nothing’s 100% bad!”

What these really mean: “My overwhelming cheeriness is desperate in its cluenessness!”

Let me know if this sounds familiar. You had a shitty day. I mean, the shittiest. Your alarm didn’t go off, so you were late getting up. You had to rush around to get ready. You got toothpaste all over your work shirt so you had to change. You get to work and they just keep piling it on and on and ON and they’re all “deadline! Deadline! Move FASTER! You don’t need to take LUNCH, do you?” so you scarf your sad sandwich at your sad desk and keep working. When you get home, you realize you should have stopped for groceries because you have, like, nothing to eat but you were SO GODDAMNED EXHAUSTED. So you write to a friend, just blasting, as you do, telling them about your shitty day.

And they respond with, “Always look on the bright side! Some people don’t even HAVE a job!”


Yes, yes. First world problems! You knew that when you started blasting. But sometimes? You just need a sympathetic ear. You don’t want someone to point out all of your blessings. You want someone who will say, “THAT SUCKS; I LOVE YOU.” That’s how you know who your true friends are, in my opinion. Sure, they try to help you out when you have problems, but also, they know when you just need to vent, and their answer is, “THAT SUCKS; I LOVE YOU.” (All caps and semicolon are, of course, not mandatory; however, extra points for me if included.)

A better substitute: “THAT SUCKS; I LOVE YOU.” Also, “That hit I said I’d put out on someone for you is totally still on the table, babe.”

There are many more. TONS more. But this is getting way lengthy, and I kind of have to pee. So, in summation: be more creative with your cheerleading. Your friends will appreciate it. And if you keep trotting out these boring old standards when your friends are having issues, I give your friends permission for neck-punching or hammer-hitting. PERMISSION GRANTED. You’ve been warned. Remember: you can never go wrong by offering to take a hit out on someone who’s being a douchecanoe to a friend. It PROVES you LOVE them. I promise.

About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

16 responses to “Also, you’ll break an axle on the road less traveled by. YOU’RE WELCOME.

  • Rich Crete

    “It isn’t you, it’s me.”


    • lucysfootball

      I’ve actually used this one. *cringes* But in my defense, it really WAS me. Well, my issues with the fact that I wasn’t attracted to him. But that’s not him, it’s me!

      But I agree. This one is horrible. Of course it’s both of you. There are two of you there. You both carry some of the weight, even if one of you (me, in the scenario above) is the total jerk in the situation.


  • lynnettedobberpuhl

    “That sucks; I love you,” trumps all platitudes AND ADVICE. Why do people think I need their advice? I KNOW what I need to do or I’d be asking, “What do I do?” No, I need sympathy and love, and maybe a hit put out on someone. Solid post.

    BTW, I think if God wanted to do a handstand, God totally could, even if God had just emerged from a coma and transmogrified into a rock star. Just saying. (another sadly overused phrase.)


    • lucysfootball

      Thank you! I know – I’m hoping more people will start saying this to me when I vent. Probably they won’t, but it doesn’t hurt to throw it out there.

      And +100000000000 points to you for being the first one to get the Skeeball reference! God COULD totally do a handstand, even wearing a weird dress and hanging out with smoking-hot Alan Rickman!


  • FutureFormerBoss

    Similarly, I wish that expressions of sympathy (mainly sympathy cards) were more honest and said “this sucks” instead of “he’s in a better place, she’ll always be with you now, God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”


    • lucysfootball

      YES! I was just saying that on the last comment. People say the stupidest, most inane things when faced with death. I know it’s tough, knowing what to say. But a simple “I’m so sorry” is WORLDS better than some of the things said at funerals or in sympathy cards. Also, if God’s just snatching away my loved ones because he needs them more than I do, he really needs join a book club or something. I think I’ll say that at the next funeral I attend. It should go over well, I think.


  • CMTomaso

    First, +10 points for “ameliorate”.

    Second, I hate “It’s all part of God’s will”. We recently had a bit of a bad turn in my family and I kept hearing this little diddy. Every time someone said this to me, I just wanted to reply, “Awesome, I definitely needed God to kick me in the nuts!” I would rather someone just say “Shit happens”.

    (PS Do you know how to make a Holy Bartender?)


    • lucysfootball

      Ooh, +10! I like that!

      I hate that too. SO MUCH. So many annoying things like that get said at wakes & funerals that I always have to go outside to escape from it. “God’s will” and “God needed another angel” and “Now her pain is ended and she is at peace” and “It’s all part of God’s plan and who are we to question that” SHUT UP. Someone I love? IS DEAD. I can’t SEE them anymore. So you know what’s not helpful? ANYTHING YOU ARE SAYING TO ME RIGHT NOW.

      +1000000 for the holy bartender! I’ll bring the gun, but you know the golf club is a better weapon!


  • Andreas Heinakroon

    It is COLDEST before dawn though. But I guess that wasn’t good enough for them.

    Also, sorry, but I going to have to quote Calvin & Hobbes for the 2nd time today, as it’s one of my favourites. Calvin, hanging from a balloon 2 miles above some unknown state, ponders about how things at least couldn’t get any worse. He then realise that he could lose his grip of the balloon string or get sucked into an air intake of a passing jet: “The amazing thing about life is that no matter how bad it looks, it can always get worse.”


  • Omnibus

    Who is Dawn? Is she cool? Can I have her number? ;)


    • lucysfootball

      I don’t know if you want it. Apparently, it’s always darkest before her. So it would be really hard to see her, and you’d always have to walk behind her or you might trip and fall, I guess.


  • Andreas Heinakroon

    I think the essence of all these inane proverbs is: “Will you shut the feck up and stop whining; you’re getting me down!”.

    People seem to be allergic to anyone having any kind of problem, especially if there is no easy fix.

    Essentially, we should all just be happy that we’re not quite dead yet and just “grin and bear it”. Or at least not let anyone else know how we feel.

    On the plus side: it will show you who your real friends are.


    • lucysfootball

      First, I love your use of “feck” because it makes me happy and think of crotchety Irishmen.

      Second, AGREED TIMES A MILLION. I don’t get why some people don’t understand that sometimes, you just need to vent. You *know* there’s no fix for it, but you just need to let off some steam. And the last thing you need to hear is “aw, cheer up, silver lining!” Grrrr.


  • lahikmajoe

    When people say I’m ‘full of the awesome’, I don’t think it’s intended in the positive way you refer to your friend.

    Am saying turtle repeatedly, and it’s still a word…must continue.

    Heh heh, Amy said ‘ameliorate’. Heh heh.

    How many months have you been waiting to use the phrase ‘NOPE GROSS I AM OUT OF HERE CLOWN WIG HARRY’? Be honest.

    This is the first of your posts I can remember where you don’t say ‘for the love of Pete’. Don’t hold me to that. I’ve simply been meaning to ask: Who’s Pete? Really.


    • lucysfootball

      There’s another way to use “full of the awesome?” Is it dirty? I don’t want to know about it if it is.

      I came up with Clown Wig Harry ON THE FLY. I am just that cool.

      Pete IS actually a person I know, but honestly, I like old-timey cusses. And cusses from Warner Brothers and Looney Tunes cartoons. They are my favorite. I mean, a real cuss here and there works, too, but ask yourself, what’s funnier, “consarn it” or “goddamn it?” Consarn it, right? I rest my case. It’s all about the funny. Or, at least, what minutiae amuses me.


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