Inappropriate ResponsesIssue: Section:
“I'm going to the bathroom, can I get you anything?”
For reasons that defy explanation and are a major source of grouchiness, we sometimes say things to people that make no sense and can't be retrieved once we spit them out.
Last week I myself fell victim to this grating absurdity. I was walking along Third Avenue in New York City heading for a nearby supermarket when a stranger comes out of nowhere and accidentally bumps into me.
Before I could say, “Watch where you're going, asshole” – the bumper topples the reputation of New Yorkers as loud and rude by smiling and quietly saying, “I'm sorry.”
My bizarrely moronic reply was, “You're welcome.”
You're welcome? What the hell was I thinking? Why such a segue glitch in my brain circuit? Any positive outcome of this brief encounter was quickly snuffed out and replaced by the bumper having an odd story to tell his friends.
Since that day I have heard other people practicing their meaningless exchanges.
“Say hello to your mother for me.”
“Don't stay out too late.”
I was at a movie one night, sitting on an aisle seat, and this fidgety teenager sitting next to me kept getting up and walking past me. After making me stand up for the fifth time, the kid must have realized he was being a nuisance and said to me: “I'm going to the bathroom, can I get you anything?”
If you're going to misspeak, try committing a Malapropism. A Malaprop, as you know, is derived from the famous literary character, Mrs. Malaprop. And is the act of misusing words in a ridiculous manner – the verbal derailment often leading to a humorous outcome.
Some of my favorite Malapropisms come from politicians and other fools.
“They have miscalculated me as a leader.”
“It will take time to restore chaos and order.”
“Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.”
“The police are not here to create disorder, they're here to preserve disorder.”
“We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile.”
As Shakespeare once said, “Comparisons are odorous.” But I think you get the idea. The clever message in your head is not always the one that reaches your intended receiver.