Sunday, May 19, 2013

They Say



Just the other day I was talking to a friend and I realized that there is nothing more conversationally powerful than the open-ended phrase, “they say.” It is the accepted method of introducing unverifiable facts attributed to ambiguous experts in an unidentified field of study. The best part is that current societal norms insist that all participants accept these revelations without question lest we be considered rude.

Personally, I find myself deploying “they say” on three separate occasions:

1.      I have an unsubstantiated theory I wish to legitimize without fear of reprisal.

Let’s say that I am in a conversation with someone and for whatever reason I have come to believe that the leading cause of death for Caucasian rhythm guitarists is hummus poisoning. To my knowledge, this is nothing more than wild speculation but presentation is key:

Scenario A

"I just realized that spoiled hummus is to blame for the death of most white rhythm guitarists. Did you know that?"

"Really? Where did you get that from? Did something happen to Ronnie Wood? That doesn’t even sound plausible. Why am I even friends with you?"

Scenario B

"They say that the leading cause of death for Caucasian rhythm guitarists is hummus poisoning."

"Really? That is interesting. I suppose I have never read anything that would disprove that....."

2.      I wish to broach a volatile subject with a new acquaintance in a non-committal fashion.

Let’s say I want to interject a blanket statement that covers all major hot-button issues simultaneously. This allows me to ascertain the scope of someone’s political perspective in the most efficient manner possible. For instance, I could approach a complete stranger and declare, “They say that the majority of abortion providers in states without the death penalty are welfare-funded homosexual Islamic immigrants whose passion for gun control is only narrowly exceeded by their commitment to creeping socialism.”

If the person reacts negatively, you can easily distance yourself by attributing the statement to an often maligned organization like the Federal government or bloggers named Trey. If the person readily accepts this statement as true, it might be time to talk to someone else.

3.      I wish to offer unsolicited medical advice.

You may find yourself in the elevator with a coworker when the subject of their recent surgical procedure comes up. Desperate for a response other than “oh my” or “that sounds terrible,” sometimes I will toss out legitimate sounding home remedies in the hopes that the person will field test them for me.

A few that can yield interesting results:

  • They say that pre-moistening your undershirt with pineapple juice does wonders for gout.
  • They say that most dandruff can be alleviated by mixing laxatives and baby aspirin.
  • They say that it is cheaper to just take out your stitches at home with a staple remover.
  • They say that canine heart-worm medication is an aphrodisiac.
  • They say that the majority of third nipples are the result of excess riboflavin in your diet.
  • They say that sleeping east to west is the most effective way to minimize the impact of rosacea.

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