What is the meaning of the term “mixed bag”? It is constantly being used by weathermen (“Next week you can expect a mixed bag of weather”) but I have been unable to find its origins in my internet searching efforts. I discovered there was a ’60s band called “Mixed Bag” and that Richie Havens had an album called “Mixed Bag” in 1967 — the one that brought him into the public eye, although he had two albums released previous to it.

The term always seems like a phony psychedelic-era made up expression — the kind of phrase Hollywood writers would have someone say in a movie to seem hip and with it. It always makes me think of the song “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, a song laden with pseudo-hip clichés. Check it out on YouTube — it’s hard to believe that’s really Kenny Rogers, the face-lifted “Coward of the County.”

KROG

Another overused expression that annoys me is “to make ends meet.” It seems that no one can say simply, “to try to pay the bills.” Writers describe people taking on second jobs “to make ends meet.” What could that possibly mean? Ends of what? Why must they meet?

What does “getting my act together” mean? Seriously – I want to know. Similarly, I hear people lamenting that “I lost my shit,” which for me conjures up something involving the use of Depends. I don’t get that one either. It may be generational, though. When I was in jr. high school, my mother would say, “So how did you make out at school today?” which would cause me to roll my eyes in horror, because “make out” was something you did in the back of a car with a sweaty teenage boy. She learned to say, “So HOW DID YOU FARE?” I thought that was brilliant of her.

I have taken to screaming every time I hear someone on television say, “At the end of the day.” This means I scream a lot. It’s so overused.

“The reason is because….” No, “the reason is” PERIOD. There is no “because” needed. Even the President falls prey to this one.

Don’t forget “literally,” which people seem to say literally every other word. Of course, they use it not to describe something that actually happened, but as an emphasizer. “When I saw my test results, I literally died.” So sorry. Rest in peace.

Someone very close to me is in the habit of saying, “Where did he get that at?” AAARRGGGHHH. Okay, he’s from the South and old habits die hard (cliché!), but whenever I hear it, I imagine him plucking “Dueling Banjos” while sporting a toothless grin.

One that I really must abandon is the correct placement of “only” in a sentence. NO ONE, not even headline writers, can do this properly. Would someone tell me what this means:

I sincerely feel that too much focus has been placed on encouraging young women only to achieve professionally.

Does it mean that ONLY young women have been encouraged to achieve professionally? Does it mean that young women have been encouraged to achieve ONLY in the professional realm of their lives? Or something else entirely?

My obsession with this sort of thing has made my children’s lives a living hell (another cliché! See, even I am not immune to these temptations). I can’t NOT question them and correct them, even on Facebook. It’s my job! One of my sons refers to himself and his honey as “Me and Linda” (name changed to protect the innocent). How could someone growing up in my house ever think that “me” comes first? Conversely, “They threw a nice party for Linda and I,” is grounds for the death penalty in my rule book — well, life in prison.  I don’t believe in the death penalty.

I do feel it is the job of all parents to try to guide one’s children toward literacy, proper usage and correct grammar, and to teach them all the various things designed to demonstrate that they are educated, refined and were not raised by wolves, such as wearing a tie to a job interview, no matter what you think the other applicants are wearing or not wearing. No one ever got rejected for a job because he wore a tie.

tie

Well, maybe this guy….

We all make snap judgments on such things as appearance and attitude, even if we wish we didn’t.  Please check out Malcolm Gladwell’s enlightening book Blink.

blink_malcom_gladwell

When I was working on a case about children’s rights to orthodontic treatment under Medicaid, one of the orthodontists advising me said, “Did you ever notice how all the bad guys in the movies have imperfect teeth?”  His point was that it sends a negative message, even though we all wish it did not.

bad teeth

Too bad the justices weren’t swayed.

We can strive to overcome that tendency by being more aware of it, but it is an aspect of human nature that is here to stay. The same is true for the way others form opinions of us when they hear us speak. I think it’s pretty important to gently teach our little ones proper usage the best we can, even though those little mispronunciations are so very cute when they are small.

I hope no one will be offended by my (surprise) opinionated POV! I’m interested to know what others think. I’d love to hear your thoughts. But please don’t lose your shit on me…literally!

 

 

 

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