I grew up on clichés. In fact, our family’s foundation is based on clichés. Growing up, I didn’t know what those familiar sayings meant but I heard them enough to know they carried significance.
As a kid, whenever a grown up tried to teach me something, they’d say “this is as easy as falling off a log.”
I saw logs in the river once after a flood. They were banging into each other, crashing and smashing their way through raging waters. Nothing about that looked easy to me.
In today’s cell-phone world, some of the clichés probably don’t make sense to young people unless they can Google it on their phone and get Siri to explain the trite saying. We live in a Netflix and cell-phone world, and the time has come to update, or at least explain, our clichés.
For instance, “kill two birds with one stone.” I’ve never seen anybody kill a bird with one stone much less kill two with one stone. In fact, I don’t think it’s physically possible to kill two birds with one stone unless you tie one bird down, hit it with a huge rock and then get a second bird, tie it down and hit it with the same rock.
Then you’d face the wrath and ire of PETA and the vegans.
Then there’s: A rolling stone gathers no moss. Thanks to the acres and acres of concrete all around us, I doubt most of our young people have any idea what moss is.
Most have never seen a rolling stone because our stones are rocks we import from the gravel yard along Interstate 10 and they stay put in our manicured yards.
“All in a day’s work” is another one that probably makes no sense because we work round the clock. If you’ve got a problem with your computer or cell phone, you can talk to an operator in India or Arkansas any time of the day or night. Those customer service reps never sleep.
One of my aunts loved saying “he has an axe to grind.” First of all, most of us only remember axes if there was a lumberjack in the family or our grandparents had one hanging in the shed. Grinding is something we yuppies do at night because of all the stress we face during the day.
They make $1,200 mouth guards for that malady.
“A baker’s dozen” only makes sense because we go to Panera Breads where you can get 13 bagels and the sign tells you it’s a baker’s dozen.
I’d bet money that most people under the age of 25 don’t have a clue that a baker’s dozen was when the baker slipped an extra cookie or doughnut in your white box to thank you for your business.
“The whole ball of wax” is another cliché that goes right over our heads. When we think of wax, we think of Ripley’s Wax Museum where we can see life-sized wax statues of movie stars. Or we think of ear wax, and to think of a whole ball made out of that gunk is just gross.
Another favorite was “like white on rice.” In these days of saffron rice, whole-wheat rice and aromatic rice, that cliché doesn’t make sense any more.
“Look before you leap” still rings true, especially for this generation looking to upgrade their computer’s operating system. Can we say “Windows 8?”
We still have to “wake up and smell the coffee,” but this generation would probably understand “wake up and smell the espresso” better.
And that, as my mom would say, is the whole kit and caboodle about clichés.