(It’s guest post Saturday! Here’s one from Bryan Allain in honor of his new humor book that just released this week – Actually, Clams Are Miserable:Deconstructing 101 Ridiculous Clichés. You can also follow him on Twitter @bryanallain. If you want to write a guest post for SCL, here’s how!)
Using Cliches From the Pulpit
Any good writer will tell you to go through your work during the editing process and get rid of all the clichés. ”Clichés are lazy,” the experts say. “They make you sound like an amateur.”
Well, I’ve got news for you, experts, I just started this sentence with a cliché and it felt amazing. What’s more, I wrote a whole book filled with clichés. One hundred and one of them to be exact. How about them apples?
It’s not that I want to defend clichés. On the contrary, the whole point of my new book is to poke fun at how stupid most of them are. But once in a while clichés are necessary, so can we all agree to be a little bit more liberal with our cliché grace in 2013?
I mean, look at pastors. How many messages are they speaking in a given year? Fifty Sundays plus a few Wednesdays plus a handful of funerals and weddings equals A WHOLE LOT OF ORIGINAL MATERIAL. They should be allowed to sneak in a cliché once in a while without receiving looks of condemnation from the grammar police in sheep’s clothing.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to do my part by offering my pastor a free pass on three clichés he can use as much as he likes in the coming year. Though these clichés bug me just as much as the others in my book, here’s why I’ll let them slide from the pulpit.
1. “From the mouths of babes”
How this expression ever garnered a positive connotation is beyond me. For every cute ‘googoo’ and ‘gaga’ that comes out of a baby’s mouth you also get 41 spit-ups, 117 tantrums, and 50 ‘my diaper is a hot mess’ wails of anguish.
My guess is that this used to be longer, but it accidentally got truncated 250 years ago when a lazy monk was transcribing the first edition of What To Expect When You’re Expecting. The original expression was probably, “From the mouths of babes come vile fluids and sleep-destroying shrieks that will make you question your will to live.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love babies. I’m just not a fan of their mouths.
That being said, my pastor (Sam) has five kids, and stories about his clan are a staple of his messages for a reason: they’re fantastic. So feel free to follow up any one of those stories with this cliche in 2013, even if it is an unfinished sentence.
2. “That person really rubs me the wrong way”
Let me ask you something, pastor. Is there a right way for that person to rub you?
I didn’t think so.
Then again, I’m all for anything that reduces the overall amount of rubbing going on. So please, use this expression early and often.
3. “That’s like comparing apples and oranges”
Why is it wrong to compare apples and oranges? Apples are less messy to eat and offer a wider variety of choices. Oranges taste better and make a better juice. You see, I just compared them, and I like oranges better. Was that really that hard?
How about we start using an expression that truly displays a difficult comparison?
What about, “That’s like comparing wristbands and ear wax.”
Or, “That’s like comparing blocked bowels and the DHARMA Initiative.”
Or even, “That’s like comparing anxiety attacks and Roger Federer’s toothbrush.”
In my opinion, these are all much better comparisons than “apples and oranges.”
That being said, I understand how difficult it can be to improvise on the fly during your fourth message of the week. Sometimes it’s just a miracle that you pastors can string together three coherent sentences in a row.
So go ahead, keep pretending like it’s hard to compare hand fruits. I promise to withhold my judgment.
(Oranges, for the win.)
1. Oranges or Apples, who you got?
2. What is your least favorite cliché, the one expression that irks you the most?
(If you enjoyed this post, check out the other 98 clichés Bryan pokes fun at in his new book Actually, Clams Are Miserable. It’s hilarious, it makes a great gift, and it’s available in paperback, PDF, and Kindle formats.)