Friday, January 28, 2005

Cliche College

We take it for granted, after all we grew up with it. We have experienced its nuances all of our lives. Indeed, these nuances might be labeled conundrums. The English language can be quite intimidating to someone trying to learn it as a second language. Hmmm...isn't "English language" an oxymoron?
Our language has so many variations, that even those differences have names. There are metaphors, similies, and the fun-to-say onomatopeas, to name but a few. The very components of our speech, words, have their own diversity.
They include antonyms, homonyms, and synonyms. It can be confounding, perplexing even, to be confronted with such onerous usages and inflections.
Why don't we have some fun? Now that these students have already been confused, let's throw them a curve! No way will they be prepared for dialects, when we subject them to a sampling of regional accents. We will start with the Professor from Georgia. That southern gentleman will then hand it over to the one from Brooklyn. When the Bostonian receives it and gives them a Yankee dose of vernacular, she cedes to the instructor from the inner city streets.
As the students are trying to digest those subtleties, I have been preparing my own curriculum: Cliches 101. As a teaching aid, I have opted to literally act out a select handful of cliches. By this method my students should find them more easily understood.
To set up the course, I had to first come up with a compendium of these trite expressions. Next, I had to eliminate those that were not aceptable for obvious reasons. These included: a) jumping down one's throat, b) coming out of the closet, c) tripping the light fantastic, and of course d) shooting the s__t.
Practicing some of these at home, actually caused me some considerable grief. My wife was quite irate when she saw the hole in the center of the living room rug. I had innocently enough been acting out cutting a rug. I wasn't feeling very well after chewing the fat, because Crisco isn't very pleasing out of the can. Shooting the breeze didn't work too good. Although I had gotten off a few rounds, I don't think I even nicked it. Only with a microscope was I actually able to split hairs. My wife actually performed a masterpiece raising the roof when she found me rolling in the dough. She wondered why I was walking around naked, to which I succinctly replied, wearing a smile. Later on, she wasn't too happy, demanding I clean up the paper towel I was shredding from one room to another. It had been relatively easy for her to track me down because I had left a paper trail. When she saw me in the back yard patting some earth into a recently excavated hole, I simply said burying the hatchet. Even though she was throwing a fit, it sure looked like a brick to me! Next, observing me peeking under a raked pile of foliage, "Let me guess," she said, "You are turning over a new leaf ?"
I guess it was the straw that broke the camel's back , when I slipped into the bathroom wearing only a smile while she was in the shower. I turned out the lights and reached in through the shower curtain. "Stop it! Go away!" I assume she did not appreciate my perfect execution of groping in the dark.
My research had proven fruitful nonetheless. I was successful at other endeavors such as dropping a dime and rocking the boat. I had one cliche in particular that I wanted to try, but Faith Hill's agent never got back to me. I am fascinated by the possibilities of her and I acting out a leap of faith.
It is time to approach the dean about a grant and possible tenure. I had better look my best. After applying a flour paste to myself, I crumbled the crackers and began sprinkling all over me. I was putting on the ritz.
No. 12
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Jude Allen said...
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