A Mani-Freaking-Festo

A short list of words and phrases whose time has come:

Just sayin

People before me have pointed out that this phrase is obnoxious because yes, we know you’re saying it. You just said it. The real reason I can’t stand it is because people usually tack it onto the end of something that they are pointedly NOT “just sayin.” Instead, they’ve said something totally rude, or they’ve made what they perceive to be some great and hitherto unnoticed observation, or a brilliant suggestion.”You know, gas prices have gone up X dollars a gallon since Obama won the election. Just sayin.” They want you to notice their sharp wit and then duck and run from the blame with a funny little CYA phrase that is not actually funny at all. It’s like “no offense, but” at the other end of an offending sentence. Just sayin.

Really?!

I have to bite my tongue to stop myself from answering when people ask this inane question. Yes, really. For this word to be truly obnoxious, you have to repeat it twice, and the second time you say it you have to throw your hands up and half shrug your shoulders while you raise your voice an octave, or you have to look deadly serious and drop your chin, and lower your tone the same amount. It’s never used in response to actual surprising news. If somebody announces, “I’m pregnant!” you say “Really?!” once and then move on to more appropriate word, like “Congratulations!” or “I’m so sorry.” I hate the word when used in repetition with exclamations and question marks and sharp vocal modulations because it’s whiny, a new way to say “Everybody look at me, my life is HARD. I missed my train this morning and then I spilled my coffee and I was like: ‘Really?! Really?!'” I also hate that the tone implies the sky is falling, but people like to use it in response to utterly mundane events. There is a cell phone commercial that features a girl watching her battery die, screaming “Really? Really?!” at the phone and if I ever saw that in real like I would take her by the shoulder and yell, “Yes, really, your phone died because that’s what electronics do when you use them to play a dozen concurrent games of Words with Friends while snapping picture after picture of your shoes and food and uploading them to the world. Carry a dang charger.” EXCEPTION: If you can use this phrase like Amy Poehler (i.e. to draw attention to absurd misogynistic rhetoric and policies), then by all means carry on, because it is hilarious. Really.

Awkward

Okay, this is a great word when used accurately. Teenagers can be awkward. A whole host of social situations can be awkward: meeting your partner’s parents, going on a first date with someone you have nothing in common with, making small talk with a superior who walked into the bathroom at the same time as you. Awkward is a fantastic word if you want to make use of its powerful connotations: high school bodies and love affairs, gangly limbs and dangling participles, clunky hard-to-fit objects and emotions. Awkward is not a good word to describe anything and everything you do not like. It is not awkward to see an ex at a crowded party if you leave the room without ever having an awkward interaction with them. Unexpected things, like rain, or missing your bus, are not awkward. Mildly embarrassing things, like forgetting to wear deodorant or stumbling over your shoelace, are not awkward.  A thing is not awkward just because it may relate to sex or be misconstrued as relating to sex.  Overweight people are not awkward. Unexpected things, like seeing a homeless person with an iPhone or quitting your job to pursue your dream and realizing you hate it, are not awkward. These things might be ironic, but they are probably not that either. If you’ve ever participated in the meme That Awkward Moment When…, you’re probably using it wrong. And you, girl: You may be trying really hard to look and dress and sound like Zooey Deschenel, but I promise you, you are not awkward.

You know what else is not awkward, but happens to be true? I use all three of these words/phrases. A lot. Really. Just sayin.

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