I’ve learned that sometimes, it’s what you don’t say that’s important.
Specifically, it’s been my experience that any sentence ending with, ‘if that’s what you’re trying to say‘ is trouble. With a capital ‘T’. And an italic ‘r’. And the rest of ‘ouble’ in a nice Arial font. With serifs, and all that shit.
Anyway, I used to be in the habit of ending sentences with ‘if that’s what you’re trying to say‘. It seemed like a good idea — at the time — to strike a precautionary blow against whatever nasty things people might be thinking about me. Which seemed to happen quite a lot, really. So I’d have conversations like:
Boss: Say, did you finish that report that I asked you about yesterday?
Me: Well, I didn’t blow it off and spend the afternoon surfing for panda porn at my desk, if that’s what you’re trying to say.
Boss: Oooo-kay, then. I see.
Or how about:
Friend: Dude, I just scored Sox tickets for Saturday. You wanna go?
Me: Well, I don’t not want to go, and instead sit at home building a voodoo doll out of Play-Doh and hair from your shower drain, so I can stab at you for asking Joe first… if that’s what you’re trying to say.
Friend: Uh… is that a ‘yes’?
Me: Sure, pick me up at noon. Go Sox!
Wife: Honey, are you going to finish that ice cream?
Me: Well, I’m not going to slide the bowl down my pants, and then go outside to see if the dog will lick it off, if that’s what you’re saying.
Wife: Erm… it wasn’t, really.
Me: Oh. Well, then, yeah, I’ll finish it. Strawberry swirl is tasty!
All that does is get me into trouble, people. I realized that I wasn’t so much nipping those ridiculous thoughts in the bud, as I was planting them in peoples’ heads. Silly me, for figuring that everyone else is just naturally as twisted as I am.
So now I’ve resorted to another plan. I don’t want to bring up any specifics in these situations, but I still want to put folks on the defensive — just in case they’ve come up with some other (and probably sicker) idea of the type of thing I’d be doing when I’m not working, watching baseball, or eating yummy ice cream. So now, I answer every question I get with an angry:
‘What the hell do you mean by that?‘
Sure, it makes ordering at a restaurant a bit tricky:
Waiter: May I take your order, sir?
Me: Just what the hell do you mean by that?
Waiter: Nothing. Nothing, sir. I was just wondering whether you were ready to order. No problem. Perhaps I should come back in a few moments?
Me: And what the hell do you mean by that?
Waiter: Um… well, just that maybe you need another minute to decide. But I can take it now, if you’re ready. Do you know what you’d like?
Me: Hey, buddy — what the hell do you mean by that?
Waiter: Look, this is getting tiresome, sir. Either give me an order now, or I’ll come back in a few moments. Otherwise, I’ll have to get the manager. You don’t want that, do you?
Me: Yo, cupcake, just exactly what the hell do you mean by that?
Waiter: That’s it! I’m getting the manager. We waitstaff don’t need this kind of abuse, sir!
Me: (to wife) Man, what a douchebiscuit. And I heard the service here was good, too. Tsk.
Wife: You’re an idiot. And get that ice cream out of your pants.
No, it’s not a perfect system. But it’s better. Maybe someday I’ll graduate to ‘Are you talking to me?‘, or the simple-yet-effective menacing, ‘Whaaaat?!‘
Meanwhile, I’m doing the best I can. And it seems to be working — people ask me way less questions than they used to. Which is all I ever really wanted. Isn’t it everybody’s goal to just be left the hell alone sometimes?
(‘Now just what the hell did I mean by that?!?‘)Permalink | 4 Comments