Monday, November 21, 2011

Dangerous Conversation Enders

Now is a dangerous time to have conversations with me if you're easily offended. I'm not sure why, but for some reason, there are a few lines that I've been hankering to use for a while, and I'm waiting for the opportune time to put some of these conversation killing zingers to good use. For better or worse (probably for better), situations in which I would be confident bringing out these  gems don't come along too often, but I want to be ready when they do. So, I've been daydreaming scenarios in which I would get say these things:

1) Put this in your pipe and smoke it!

When I say it: You have handed me a request for an unusually large amount of paperwork, all of which is unnecessary. I complete the paperwork by hand, pass it through a paper shredder, and give it to you in a bag. I tell you, "Put this in your pipe and smoke it!," and walk away.

When you should not be offended: I have inadvertently stumbled across fine, pipe-quality tobacco. Not being a pipe smoker, I offer some to you (of course you smoke a pipe!).

Why: Something about saying this is satisfying. It doesn't necessarily make sense, but I enjoy the imagery it conveys. I also like how the emphasis on "this" gives me a good chance to vent my anger, channelling it through a word. I'd probably make some sort of emphatic gesture at that point, too.

2) Go milk a duck.

When I say it: You ask me to do some futile, difficult task while you sit down, and perhaps sip a mojito. I tell you, "Aaaah, go milk a duck." I walk away.

When you should not be offended: I have become an eccentric goat farmer. All of my goats are named after other animals. You ask if there is anything you can do to help, so I tell you, "Go milk A. Duck." While you are milking "A. Duck," (the A. is short for Arnold), I am milking "D. Tortoise" (Dylan), "T. Shark" (Theodore) and "J. Badger" (Jean-Paul). Being the head goat farmer, I milk many more than you can in the same amount of time. Don't worry, you'll learn soon enough.

Why: This one is all about the imagery. I like how it almost makes sense. Why a duck? It must be hard to catch one. Where would you start trying to milk it? It leaves the target puzzled and hurt while I walk off, smug and self-satisfied with my delivery.

3) Put a sock in it, buddy!

When I say it: Honestly, this one is pretty generic. Perhaps I'm fed up with the conversation because I don't like hearing why your sports team is better than mine. Or maybe I don't want to hear about how talented your cat is. Perhaps you offended me by insulting my Jerry Garcia tie. I don't know, I don't particularly care. Put a sock in it, buddy.

When you should not be offended: You have a hole in your pocket, but also have a surplus of change. You ask me for some advice about how to line your pocket so that you can carry your change. "Put a sock in it, buddy!," I offer, helpfully. Maybe I even provide an unmatched sock I have lying around my room.

Why: This one sounds nice to me. Every word is short and sharp, except for that last one. "Buddy." It's so sarcastic and patronising. It's got the right sound to be a strong order, and the proper, authoritative delivery will leave a target speechless. How can you reply when you're busy stuffing your mouth with a sock?

4) How 'bout them apples!

When I say it: We have been arguing for the past hour. You are clearly wrong, but refuse to see things my way (the proper way). My aide drops off a folder of papers that definitively prove you are wrong. I look them over for 30 seconds, ignoring you and the noises coming out of your mouth. I laugh to myself, and throw the folder in front of you. Some of the papers tumble out, but in a neat, orderly fashion so that you can see the evidence. "How 'bout them apples," I scoff.

When not to be offended: We are picking apples in an orchard. It is a beautiful autumn day. Although we have had much success up to this point, we reach lane of trees we have not seen yet. We both gasp. In unison, we turn to each other and exclaim, "How 'bout them apples!" Awestruck by the beauty of the apples, we have clearly forgotten the difference between the nominative and accusative demonstrative adjectives.

Why: This one is so simple - it begs the target to look at how obviously right I am. It starts off hesitantly, almost like a question, but by the time it's over, you know I've got the winning hand and that I've been taking the high road the whole time. I think the delivery is best done casually, not too rushed, not too slow. Then, I revel in watching the target's response play out as he (or she!) realises who has the power in the situation.

5) Blow it out yer cornhole!

When I say it: I have no interest in ever talking to you, seeing you, or hearing of you ever again. I interrupt you mid-sentence to tell you to "Blow it out yer cornhole." We never speak again.

When not to be offended: No. I mean this one. This is always offensive.

Why: Everything about this phrase is perfect. It's got the right combination of sounds and imagery to be versatile in multiple situations and offensive. "Blow it out yer cornhole." Try saying it and not feeling good about yourself. The crisp "bl" at the start followed by three words in the middle that roll together, leading into the hard "C" at the end just make this one satisfying to say at any volume. I also love how versatile it is. Cornhole is just ambiguous enough to defy abstraction - what would a cornhole look like, if it's not what you know I'm referring to? Probably a lot like what I'm referring to. The "it" can refer to anything. I'll use this one anytime. So, yeah. Blow it out yer cornhole.

As a sidenote, a lot of these go really well with some sort of audience participation. In my mind, immediately after I let one of these phrases loose, a crowd of onlookers circles in, and throw in a rising "Ooooooooooooo" before repeating what I said. So just saying, if you see me deliver one of these, feel free to taunt my target. It would really add to the effect, and I'd be sure to remember it in the future if you ever need something.