I recently heard a couple of odd phrases that left me scratching my head. Some are expressions you hear on any given day, sayings that are accepted because people have always used them. But if you really think about what is actually being said you’d realize they don’t always make sense. Often called oxymorons. For example, jumbo shrimp. Shrimp is used to refer to something small in size, so, jumbo shrimp? How about free rent? Rent is something you usually pay out, right? So can it be free? Surely you’ve heard the term old news? The word news usually means what’s new. Old news? What got me thinking about all this was I overheard a woman say, “She over-exaggerates everything.” I had to look twice to see if she was being silly intentionally. She was not. Is stating someone over-exaggerates everything an exaggeration in itself? And can you really over-exaggerate when exaggerating is over the top already? Using the term over-exaggerating is a waste of breath and unnecessary.

Thinking about this piqued my interest in lazy speech and I started hearing phrases used that if you really thought about what was being said you’d question it, too. I recently heard a night time newscaster use the term, “senseless crime.” That prompted me to try to come up with a crime that made sense. I couldn’t come up with one. Killing or maiming someone in self defense is not a crime, although it makes sense to kill or maim someone who is trying to do the same to you. But I’ve never heard anyone say, “Oh, that crime makes sense to me.”

Another phrase I’ve heard and maybe have used it myself is, “thinking out loud.” How? Is that something like ventriloquism? Thinking out loud – last time I checked, my thinking went on inside my head. I’m assuming all the little voices telling me what to do is really me just thinking. I think.

How about “act naturally?” Usually, this is said as the police are waving you and your not-so-sober friends over at a sobriety check-point. But if you’re acting, is that natural? But the one phrase winning this month’s oxymoronic phrase is....drum roll here, uncontrollable diarrhea.

Really? Uncontrollable diarrhea? When is diarrhea controllable? And if you could control it, would it be diarrhea? And what would you do to control it? And why would you want to control it? Wouldn’t you want to get rid of it? You don’t want it hanging around and find out you really don’t have it controlled. Because I’m pretty sure diarrhea is not controllable.

I think diarrhea is the best call-in-to-work-sick-excuse. Really. If you call into work and tell them you have a cold and feel miserable and they really need you, the boss might suggest you take medication and get rid of your stuffy nose. And you might be able to suck it up and put in a day’s work. You might feel kind of under the weather, but you can work. But if you have diarrhea you can’t even drive yourself to the pharmacy to get anti-diarrhea medication. It’s just not a chance most people are willing to take. How could a boss guilt you in to coming into work. What would that conversation be like?

You: “Hello, yeah, I can’t make it into work today. I have diarrhea.”

Boss: “Man, we’re really busy today. We need you. Can’t you just come in for a little bit?”

You: “Dude, I have diarr...gotta go.”

Seriously, it’s not something you can control. So I think it can be left unsaid if you have diarrhea it’s not controllable.

I’m telling you though, if you think you have ridden the wave of diarrhea and you go to work, only to find out your diarrhea is not “under control” and you poop your pants, it will not matter what good you do in this world. If you are the best teacher, the best volunteer, the best girl scout leader, a Bible camp counselor, Bill Gates, speaker of the house – no matter what accolades you have hanging on your wall, if you poop your pants you will always be remembered for pooping your pants.

I can just imagine the talk around the water cooler, “Hey, did you hear Joe is being honored tonight for his fund raising skills for babies with AIDS and for his years of work with orphaned elephants?”

The next question asked is, “Joe who? Oh the guy who pooped his pants?”

I’m just saying. It’s not uncontrollable diarrhea, it’s just plain old diarrhea.

PS – Statistics show one out of four people suffer from diarrhea. So does that mean the other three enjoy it?