Clinton, S.C., Friday, March 28, 2014, 12:53 p.m.
“Quite frankly,” Buddy Baker likes Tony Stewart “to be honest.”
Those are two NASCAR luminaries’ favorite clichés. I enjoy listening to Buddy on SiriusXM, and I listen to him enough to know how fond he is of saying “quite frankly.” As I haven’t been to the track and attended the media conferences in quite a while, I’m not sure if Tony Stewart still replies to a question with a question.
“To be honest?”
No, Tony. We all want you to be a politician.
I’m just noting this. I’m not passing judgment. Most people are cliché ridden. For instance, I say “actually” too often. When I listen to myself on tape, I always cringe when I hear that word come out of my mouth. Why do I hate myself for saying it? It could be because, when I was a kid, a popular sitcom was Gomer Pyle, USMC, and Gomer had a girlfriend – which he doesn’t have in real life – named Lou Ann Poovy, and she constantly said, “Wayull, Gomuh, actually …” Somehow, even though Private Pyle was stationed far away from Mayberry, it sounded as if Lou Ann was somehow from there, too.
Cliches cross all borders of education, income and prominence. Howard Cosell loved “plethoras,” especially the veritable ones. Cosell had one of the more idiotic clichés of all time.
“Tell us, Champ, in your own words …”
As opposed to … the words of Johnny Carson. Or Thomas Jefferson. Or Carol Channing.
The great writer Larry McMurtry often finds matters “vexing.” Larry McReynolds loves to claim possession: “our race leader,” “our points leader,” “our Sprint Cup champion,” the one who gets at least two right-side. Goodyear Racing Eagles and fills up with Sunoco Racing Fuel.
As opposed to three right-side Goodyear Racing Eagles.
There’s Larry, there’s Darrell, and there’s his other brother, Michael.
A penalty might be having to go to the tail of the longer line (there are two, you might recall), but the announcer will always say “tail end of the longest line,” a needless superlative.
Then there’s that NEW TRACK RECORD! They never mention all those drivers who set old track records.
Cliches aren’t all bad. They can be used for effect. I used to be fond of saying, when all hell was breaking loose (as opposed to all those partial eruptions of hell), “Another … big … day.”
Another of my favorite clichés, self-evidently, is “as opposed to.”
Yet, still, I persist in writing novels. The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope are available here if you’d like to buy an autographed copy and have me ship it to you. If you’ve got a Kindle, they’re available at amazon.com, not to mention a growing number of bookstores.