Tyrades! by Danny Tyree
Hollywood makes iconic catch phrases seem easy.
Whether it’s McGarrett’s “Book ‘em, Danno” or Vizzini’s “Inconceivable!” in “The Princess Bride,” we take them for granted.
But there is a dismaying amount of trial and error behind the relative handful of utterances that fully capture the public consciousness.
For example, the magisterial “Make it so” of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the “Star Trek” universe.
Early versions of Picard’s command included “That’s what SHE said,” “Pretty please with a Romulan cherry on top” and first runner-up “That’s the way…uh huh uh huh…I like it…That’s the way…”
It’s not just fictional characters and celebrities (forgive the redundancy) who are known by their word choice.
What are the phrases that your friends, relatives and acquaintances know YOU by?
Don’t feign ignorance. Many catch phrases are quite deliberate. One of my co-workers customarily answers inquiries about his wellbeing with a cheerful “Hangin’ in there like a hair in a biscuit.” (Is it mere coincidence that the local unemployment rate for bald bakers has dropped to zero?)
He and I fondly remember a customer named Caneer, who drove a truck emblazoned with the encouraging motto “Never fear – Caneer is here.” (With today’s fuel prices, Mr. Caneer would undoubtedly have added, “You push, and I’ll steer.”)
A sincere “Lord willing” tacked on at the end of a declaration of one’s intentions is certainly commendable, although some people overdo it. After the umpteenth round of “I’m going to open my desk drawer, Lord willing, and get you a paper clip, Lord willing,” the Almighty is likely to dispatch an archangel to “give him a three-day-pass armband, for cryin’ out loud!”
Other speech patterns are unconscious. And self-contradictory. “Imagine that!” isn’t exactly the epitome of imagination. (“Let me get a pulley — so you can hold up your end of the conversation!”)
We pepper our dialogue with a lifetime accumulation of movie quotes, fourth-generation family sayings, stalling techniques (“Like, good, you know what I mean, morning –and stuff”) and similar verbiage. And sometimes we’re not the most scintillating folks to be around.
Admit it: you’ve found yourself dreading the tag team of “So I said to myself, ‘Self…’” Guy and “If I’m lyin’, I’m fryin’” Guy.” (“Self, see if you can ease out the back way. Oops. I didn’t mean to bump into you, ‘Workin’ hard or hardly workin’?” Guy. Are you and ‘I’m not one to gossip, but…’ Lady still an item?”)
I remember one dearly departed codger who habitually interrupted speakers with nods and grunts of “I know it, I know it.” It took a little of the wind out of his sails when a speaker reached his breaking point and demanded to know, “If you already know it, why am I having to explain it to you???”
Don’t get me started on the expletives (mild and spicy) that flow freely based purely on muscle memory. (“Whoa! I didn’t realize how much my swear jar was starting to look like Fort Knox.”)
Honestly, as a wordsmith, I am self-conscious about my speech. I often bite my tongue, count to 10 and strive to scrub my greetings, prayers and responses clean of clichés and verbal crutches.
It’s not an easy path, but that’s the way uh huh uh huh I like it…
Wait! Are you reading hard or hardly reading?
Hello? Houston, we have a problem.
Copyright 2022 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”