Monday, November 15, 2004

Conversation Enders

There are key phrases that will, or should, bring a conversation to a screeching halt because there really isn't anything else to say after these. I'll list them, you think about it.

1. You are not my mother/mama/father/daddy
2. You can't tell me what to do
3. I'm grown/I'm an adult
4. You ain't Jesus/God said it, and that's good enough for me
... and bonus phrases:
1. Let me tell you something
2. Being the nice person I am...
3. I know one thing...

Why are they conversation enders? A relatively peaceful, albeit a mildly confrontational, conversation that degrades into a hand-on-hip, squinty-eyed delivery of one of these phrases, is no longer a conversation worth continuing. Someone is bound to walk away with hurt feelings or hurt body parts. You can't say anything else to someone who tells you you aren't Jesus -- do you respond with "I know that, jackass" or do you walk away? Do you tell someone who has pointed out their niceness that they are grossly mistaken and they're really a low-life sack of skin? Or silently regret that someone admits publicly they know just one thing?

The delightful omni-functionality of these phrases means that they're suitable for adoption by any ethnic group, and they have been. From the lacquer-haired White evangelical woman in the midwest, to the neck-snapping 'round the way girl in Brooklyn, you're in trouble when one of these phrases is uttered. Just back away slowly. You won't win.

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