Charlie Hatton About This
About Me
Email Me

Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

All Quotes


Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The Grass Is as Green as Its Ever Going to Get, Pal

Semantics is a funny thing. With all of the nuances in language and syntax, it’s possible for two sentences that seem almost identical to have very different meanings. It’s trivially easy to misunderstand, misinterpret or fully miscombobulate, depending on context and mindset and prior experience.

I find that this happens all the time. Even when it comes to personal philosophy.

Or perhaps, especially when it comes to personal philosophy. Sometimes the closedest of closed books is other people. Particularly when they’re trying to tell you how to live.

“Sometimes the closedest of closed books is other people.”

For instance, take this truism that seems to orient a fair number of people into a particular philosophical mindset:

Things could always be worse.

People usually say this after something awful has happened. It’s ostensibly meant to cheer someone up who’s just gone through some awful injury, trauma or modern Star Wars sequel. As in, “Sure, you broke your arm, but you could have broken both.” Or “Hey, at least there weren’t two Jar-Jar’s in that train wreck.

I for one don’t find this comforting. It comes off as a guilt trip. Sure, you have it tough. But something worse happened to someone else at some point, probably, and you don’t her him complaining.

Of course, that poor bastard is probably dead, what with the two broken arms and the George Lucas nightmare tearing apart his soul. But, see? Things could always be worse!

The pinnacle of this line of thinking is the old proverb which says:

I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.

Frankly, I don’t see how that changes things. The author’s still running around shoeless, probably stepping on rocks and bees and other sharp things. The footless guy doesn’t have this problem. And besides, if the other guy’s got no feet, then maybe he’s got an old pair of shoes to give away. He’s not using them. Help a barefoot brother out, is all I’m saying.

The point is, the message of “things could always be worse” seems to me to be: shut up and deal, because you got off easy and other people have been hit by lightning and eaten by bears and sat through the English Patient, and I don’t even want to sign your cast any more, ya crybaby.

I’m paraphrasing, of course. Obviously, no one has sat through the whole English Patient movie without crawling out of the theater or committing hara kiri with a Twizzler in the balcony. But you get the idea.

Now, contrast that with a favorite phrase of mine, which I nearly exclusively use when things are going reasonably well:

It can always get worse.

See the difference?

No? Fine. Nobody ever seems to.

Here’s the thing — my saying is a warning. A checkpoint. A simple “be prepared” and don’t get overly comfortable, because the universe will throw you a curveball now and then. I don’t say this when someone’s been run over by a bus, and I don’t invoke some tale about how some other person was once run over by two buses, so zip your feeding tube hole and be thankful. No. That would be rude.

Instead, I say it at happier times, when our collective guards might be down and we might need a gentle reminder that life can be an up-and-down sort of experience. These are the situations for “it can always get worse” — wedding toasts, for instance. Birthday parties. In Christmas cards. Right after sex.

Now you see the difference. When “things could always be worse” than some awful tragedy that just happened, the horrors are limited only to our imaginations. This horrible event could be just the first of many — and certainly not the worst so far, what with all the broken-limbed, footless cretins apparently limping around in the past.

But when “it can always get worse” than, say, a birthday party? Well, sure, there’s probably no birthday party tomorrow. Or if there is, then they might serve vanilla cake or store-bought cookies or graham crackers and prune juice. That would certainly be “worse”. But nobody has to lop off their feet, or feel bad about some Greyhound-trampled jerkhole in a body cast taking it all in stride. That’s his problem. We’ve got a pinata here. Carry on.

But just remember: it can always get worse.

Permalink  |  No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HomeAboutArchiveBestShopEmail © 2003-15 Charlie Hatton All Rights Reserved
Me on Film 'n' Stage:
  Drinkstorm Studios

Me on Science (silly):
  Secondhand SCIENCE

Me on Science (real):
  Meta Science News

Me on ZuG (RIP):
  Zolton's FB Pranks
  Zolton Does Amazon

Favorite Posts:
30 Facts: Alton Brown
A Commute Dreary
A Hallmark Moment
Blue's Clues Explained
Eight Your 5-Hole?
El Classo de Espanol
Good News for Goofballs
Grammar, Charlie-Style
Grammar, Revisitated
How I Feel About Hippos
How I Feel About Pinatas
How I Feel About Pirates
Life Is Like...
Life Is Also Like...
Smartass 101
Twelve Simple Rules
Unreal Reality Shows
V-Day for Dummies
Wheel of Misfortune
Zolton, Interview Demon

Me, Elsewhere

Standup Comedy Clips

Selected Clips:
  09/10/05: Com. Studio
  04/30/05: Goodfellaz
  04/09/05: Com. Studio
  01/28/05: Com. Studio
  12/11/04: Emerald Isle
  09/06/04: Connection

Boston Comedy Clubs

 My 100 Things Posts

Selected Things:
  #6: My Stitches
  #7: My Name
  #11: My Spelling Bee
  #35: My Spring Break
  #36: My Skydives
  #53: My Memory
  #55: My Quote
  #78: My Pencil
  #91: My Family
  #100: My Poor Knee

More Features:

List of Lists
33 Faces of Me
Punchline Fever
Simpsons Quotes
Quantum Terminology

...Bleeding Obvious
By Ken Levine
Defective Yeti
Divorced Dad of Two
Gallivanting Monkey
Junk Drawer
Life... Weirder
Little. Red. Boat.
Mighty Geek
Scott's Tip of the Day
Something Authorly
Unlikely Explanations

Full Archive

Category Archives:

(Stupid) Computers
A Doofus Is Me
Articles 'n' Zines
Audience Participation
Awkward Conversations
Bits About Blogging
Bitter Old Man Rants
Blasts from My Past
Cars 'n' Drivers
Dog Drivel
Foodstuff Fluff
Fun with Words!
Grooming Gaffes
Just Life
Loopy Lists
Making Fun of Jerks
Marketing Weenies
Married and a Moron
Miscellaneous Nonsense
Potty Talk / Yes, I'm a Pig
Sleep, and Lack Thereof
Tales from the Stage
Tasty Beverages
The Happy Homeowner
TV & Movies & Games, O My!
Vacations 'n' Holidays
Weird for the Sake of Weird
Whither the Weather
Wicked Pissah Bahstan
Wide World o' Sports
Work, Work, Work

Alas Smith and Jones
Berkeley Breathed
Bill Hicks
Dave Barry
Dexter's Laboratory
Douglas Adams
Evening at the Improv
Fawlty Towers
George Alec Effinger
Jake Johannsen
Married... With Children
Monty Python
Nick Bakay
Peter King
Ren and Stimpy
Rob Neyer
Sluggy Freelance
The Simpsons
The State

Plugs, Shameless
100 Best Humor Blogs | Healthy Moms Magazine



Feeds and More
Subscribe via FeedBurner


RSS 2.0
Site Hosting:
Solid Solutions

Powered by:

Title Banner Photo:
Shirley Harshenin

Creative Commons License
  This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License

Performancing Metrics

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Valid XHTML 1.0

Valid CSS!

© 2003-15 Charlie Hatton
All Rights Reserved