Ah, clichés. They're the stuff life is made of, eh?
There's always the danger of resorting to them in my line of work. When I see them in my own copy, I feel a little like Harvey Korman's character in the Mel Brooks classic film “Blazing Saddles.”
Korman's character is Hedley Lamarr (It's not Hedy, it's Hedley!!), the evil state attorney general who recoils at the use of the cliché “head them off at the pass.”
“I HATE that cliché,” Lamarr said in disgust.
Lamarr might have been a fictional character, but Korman really made him come alive for me. So with a tip o' the hat to the late, great Harvey Korman, this is a list of my most reviled clichés.
Kicking the can down the road: How often have we heard this over the past few weeks as Congress and the White House dicker over the budget/deficit ceiling issue? You can take any attitude you want on this issue, but please. “Kicking the can down the road” again and again? It's almost as depressing as the news about the economy.
As my wife said the other night, “if I hear anyone else in government say 'kicking the can down the road,' I'm going to kick their can down the road” in the next election.
Needless to say, I'm really careful about this one now.
At the end of the day: Nobody says this and literally means “at the end of the day.” I get it. It's a figure of speech.
It's not as if you've ever heard the office clock watcher admit, “at the end of the day, I'm getting the H-E-double toothpicks outta here.” Yes, many of us have thought that at least once, but we don't come out and say it, do we?
Still, I've wished more than once at the beginning of the day that I'll never hear “at the end of the day” again. Can we please just get rid of this piece of rhetorical clutter?
Disruptive technology: This is an example of an industry-specific cliché. I'd seen it in print several times before anyone saw fit to subject me to the aural version.
I didn't react well. Whether my eyes rolled back in my head I can't say, but a friend of mine told me later I was speaking in tongues and rotating my head all the way around – several times.
Thankfully, this one seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird (ahem). The expression “disruptive technology” does not really make the user's product seem great, it just makes the user seem like a cliché-mongerer. Beyond that, it disrupts my digestion. Here's to putting “disruptive technology” on the list of extinct rhetorical species.
So that's my list of most intensely disliked clichés. Which ones are on yours?