Does anyone mean what they say?

You have to wonder. Does the pathway between the brain and the mouth have a Detour block? It must, when we consider the actual meaning of the words that flip off our tongues in a perfect swan dive to someone’s ears.

People utter platitudes when they feel they cannot tell the truth. Southerners, especially the female segment of the population, utter a particularly loathsome and cringe-worthy phrase. You may even wish they would choke on the words before they vibrate the air with their insincerity.

“Bless Your Heart.” For some inexplicable reason, this phrase is a favorite of Southern females who fancy themselves as too ladylike, religious, or both to speak their minds. Unfortunately, one of our male siblings glommed on to it as well because he fancies himself a superior, pious being.

Were the speaker honest, he or she might utter the unthinkable, “You stupid lout. How could you do such a thing?” Trust us when we say they would feel relief and a touch of satisfaction for having spoken the truth. You may think honesty can hurt someone, but the fact is lying is far more painful for the speaker than they ever imagined. That is, of course, unless the speaker is a politician because their conscience always sits at zero, and they lack a moral compass.

The fun part of deciphering people’s words is to turn the tables. Smile the most genuine smile you can manage and say, “My heart is fine. What do you wish to say but are too disingenuous to voice your thoughts.”

A friend received a birthday card that offended this writer because neither the woman nor the giver understood what the words meant. “May you be forever young.”

To remain forever young means to never change. To never change means they have to die. Although in the darkest regions of our minds and hearts, we may at times harbor such thoughts about bad people, it is a mean thing to say to a friend on her birthday.

An agonizing example makes most people cringe. “To make a long story short.”

When someone utters those words, you might as well grab a glass or two of an adult beverage and resign yourself to a lengthy, blow-by-blow tale. Some of us may have, from time to time, said, “Just give me the unabridged version, please.” Of course, in this writer’s experience, such a request resulted in hurt feelings or annoying sobbing of the storyteller. That is the price of retaining our sanity and maintaining “social distancing.”

A cousin of the previous phrase is “Beat around the bush.” Life is too short to waste time. Say what you mean and deal with the consequences. It might be a little rocky at first, but far more entertaining

If someone asks, “How are you?” that is not an invitation to unload your troubles on their shoulders. Why? Because most people are not interested in taking on someone else’s burdens. They have plenty of their own. The expected response, “I’m good,” absolves the listener from pretending to care.

However, contrary minds do wonder what you might imply by being “good.” Since this writer possesses a healthy imagination, she does hope you have something naughty in mind.

If you advise a friend not “To get bent out of shape,” you may mean relax. However, folks who practice Yoga, which can be a relaxing but twisted experience, may assume you mean stop doing Yoga. Since we have long ago established how this writer’s mind works, just go with the warped version. It is less stressful.

When someone has more on his plate than he thinks he can handle, a person may advise him to “Hang in there.” We realize the advice is more of an encouragement and a promise of things getting better. However, the phrase conjures images in this lady’s mind of a person dangling over a precipice by their fingernails.

One cannot misinterpret this writer’s favorite saying. “May you be in heaven a half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”

Elizabeth “Liz” Cowan is a freelance writer and author. Check out her suspense novels on Website:

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