Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's Only Words ....

I'm not generally given to rants -- at least publicly. But something has started to bug me lately and I'm finding it as irritating as that little pebble that keeps shifting around in your shoe. You never know when you're going to step on it, and when you do it makes you cringe.


No, not the pebble, the word. It's become the short-hand substitute for "okay," "I heard you, but have nothing to say in response," "thank you for your order," and other phrases that would be more appropriate to the situation.

When I go to a restaurant and place an order, I do not want to hear, "Perfect" unless I've managed to pronounce a difficult French or Italian word well. I did NOT tell the waiter/waitress what I wanted to eat in order to get an evaluation of my verbal rendition of the menu. And to be perfectly honest, I doubt they care and would probably say the same thing if I asked for a glass of water and a cracker. What I want to hear is, "I'll be back right away with your drinks." Is that too much to ask?

When I go to the bank to make a deposit I do NOT want to hear the word "perfect" when I respond "yes" to the teller's "just one deposit for you today?" question. First of all, we both know it's not perfect. It's a deposit. If it was perfect I'd own the damn bank, and not be depositing my measly check into my sad little account. Is he really saying, "What a relief. I was afraid you'd try and make a withdrawal"? Or, perhaps "What a relief, I was afraid I'd have to spend more time being nice to you when what I really want to do is a) flirt with the other teller at the drive-up, b) eat my lunch, c) go back to pretending all this money is mine"?

You can't even make the case that "perfect" is this decade's substitute for "groovy" or "far out" or something else from our murky verbal past. Those words/phrases carry a connotation of approval, of being on-board with the situation. Even the f-bomb carries connotation depending on context. And NO you cannot substitute the f-bomb for "perfect." Try it, it simply doesn't work.

Waitress: What would you like?
Me: I'll have the turkey sandwich and salad.
Waitress: F___.

Bank Teller: Just one deposit for you today?
Me: Yes.
Bank Teller: F___.

See, doesn't work.

So, to all of you who have fallen into the annoying habit of using "perfect" when you should say something else, I give you a line from The Princess Bride.

You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.


  1. I don't think "perfect" has made it to Texas yet. Or perhaps I've just stopped listening. At any rate, I think this post is--excellent.

  2. All I can say is....Perfect! :)


  3. Thanks, all! Hey, someone had to speak up, right?

  4. Along the same line is when the waiter/waitress comes back (usually before you've had a chance to taste your food) and says 'everything is excellent?' or some such phrasing that dares you to disagree.

    Karen Duxbury

  5. This is a verbal tic I haven't noticed yet -- but then, I don't get out much. :-) However, I have had restaurant servers who pronounced my order "Great!" when it was just a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of tea.

  6. Next time, try asking "Really? What makes it perfect?" just to see them squirm. ;o

  7. Sandra, I think "verbal tic" is such an excellent term for this sort of thing. It really is a "tic" -- a meaningless gesture (word)... not unlike a grunt. ;)

  8. Could "perfect" be the new "awesome?" ;) Just sayin' ...

    Look - there's a furious lady carrying a pitchfork on my front porch. Isn't that Susan, after having run all the way up into Connecticut? ;) ;)

    I have a similar pet peeve: strangers in service jobs addressing me as "hon." If I still lived in the south, I'd be less steamed. But up here in Yankeeland, "hon" means "I'm here to change your adult diaper."

  9. I haven't heard the word yet, but I don't get out much either. For me, perfect is a state I'll never achieve. That pisses me off more. :-)

  10. I don't think "perfect" has reached our area yet, and I hope it doesn't. You made me laugh though. It's funny how words catch on. "Woot" and "squee" are two that come to mind. I wonder what's coming next.

  11. Rhonda, it did occur to me that "perfect" is the new "awesome" but it's used in slightly different situations and with a slightly different intonation. It's more like the new "whatever," I think -- but with less attitude and more of a desire to appear pleasant when in reality you could care less. :)

    Polly, if only the "perfect" I keep hearing actually meant "without fault" -- like Indigo said, "You keep using that word -- I don't think it means what you think it means."

    Ack! Ellis, you just hit on 2 words I wish would go away! "Squee" in particular is like nails on a chalkboard to me!

  12. My pet peeve is when my kids say 'epic fail'. At 8, my son has neither experienced epic or failure. I'd rather hear 'perfect' myself - at least it sounds like I've done something right :0)

  13. OMG, another aggravating response! My big peeve is the phrase: "the exact same." Ever heard of redundancies? Why repeat the obvious? Oh yeah, and "I could care less." Well, good for you! But don't you mean, "I couldn't care less?" Words, words, words!

  14. Jessica, I think I've heard my son say "epic fail" a couple of times -- I believe he gets it from the games he plays on the computer, etc. Haven't heard it that often, so I have to say I laughed. Obviously, whatever didn't work out right was not of "epic" proportions so I just credited him with correct use of hyperbole!

    Ah, yes, mplank! The Department of Redundancy Department claims another one! And the "care less" is such a classic, isn't it? And it just begs for some smart-mouth response!!

  15. I don't think perfect as a response has made it here yet either... I'd love to see a waiter drop the F-bomb during an evening out!

    My pet peeve word that I hate: baby bump.

  16. Know what you mean about "baby bump" -- sounds like someone ran into you without enough force to knock you down, or (if in a car)only left a small dent.

    Thanks for stopping by, William! Hope you and your family have a great holiday.