Penny’s pet peeves and please-don’ts
The other day, I was listening to a radio ad for some store that bragged about being a one-stop shop for whatever it was they were trying to sell. I had to refrain from screaming out the window or crashing into the car in front of me.
Why does everyone love that phrase so much? Isn’t it kind of ridiculous to use it for specific products, like “Come to Penny’s Shampoo Palace, your one-stop shop for cream rinse?”
Does anybody make more than one stop for most of the products or services that cling to that particular phrase?
Perhaps people are slow to give up the phrase because it’s cutesy and rhyming. I don’t care. It needs to go.
There are other phrases that need to go, too, and because I’m the type of friendly, service-minded, helpful writer that I am, I’ll be happy to share my list of over-used phrases and misused words. Others might say I’m sharing them because I’m an opinionated know-it-all, but we’ll ignore such crassness and proceed.
Now, I’m not a mathematician, but I know a little bit about percentages, like 100 percent is the entire amount, especially when you’re talking about individual effort or pieces of pie. To give something 25 percent of your effort is lame. To give it 100 percent of your effort is commendable. To give something 110 percent of your effort is impossible.
I know, I know. People use it to mean that someone really gave it their all. Guess what? Their all can only add up to 100, just like I can bake a pie and take 50 percent of it to work and eat another 50 percent of it myself, but that means there is no 10 percent hiding away somewhere for my husband when he gets home from work.
Sportscasters seem to be the worst offenders, but it’s become a motivational tool and a marketing ploy, and it’s time to say no to giving 110 percent. And it’s probably time to quit being such a pie pig, too.
I think it’s also time to quit thinking outside the box. The box is probably warm and cozy, and frankly, there are just too dang many of us sitting around outside the box, thinking up witty catch phrases that we will hate in two years. I have to admit, I’ve written outside the box more than once. It’s kind of clever and it does convey the sense of doing something not in a normal way. But really, haven’t we heard it enough?
I mean, where, exactly, is this box? Is it in a storage room with those thinking caps we were supposed to put on in third grade in order to figure out that if Johnny ate 45 percent of the pie, Susie ate another 45 percent of the pie, then poor little Jimmy didn’t get much pie?
And another thing, who gets to decide when nouns become verbs? Power is a perfectly lovely noun, as is friend, dialog and a hundred other people, places or things that have recently been turned into action words. As in, “He powered into the end zone, confident that his play would friend him more than one female admirer on his home page.”
How about, “Let’s dialog about this tomorrow, my brain has turned to mush today.”
Of course, Google has turned the world upside down and taken the verbing of nouns to a stratospheric plane. After all, Google is a proper noun, the name of an Internet search engine. Yet, when we want to learn about anything, the simplest way to start is to google it.
Since I’m standing on my soapbox, let me just take a moment to tell you about me. As in, “If you have a question about who really eats all the pie, ask my husband or me.”
Do not ask myself.
I don’t care how right it may sound to your non-grammar-loving ears, when you find yourself tempted to say, “If you have a question about how to get that writer fired, talk to the publisher or myself,” don’t say it. Don’t even think it. Think me. Me, me, me. (But please, don’t really think about me and firing in the same sentence, since I’d like to go to work tomorrow.)
I don’t know why we don’t like to say me. Perhaps we don’t want to sound self-centered or ignorant and me sounds too simple. After all, myself has more syllables, so it’s gotta be correct. Right?
Talk to my editor or myself, we’ll be glad to set you straight.