July 19, 2024
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July 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

We now return to the fertile topic of “expressions that annoy me,” which is growing ever bigger the older I get.

And I’m not just talking about expressions that people say specifically to annoy me, such as, “You’re old!” My brother frequently says this just because I’m older than he is. And I have to constantly be reminded because I’m old. He says it all the time, because younger people like repetition. And this isn’t going away, because I’m always going to be older than him, as far as I can tell. But if I’d known he’d be like this, then I would have said, when he was younger, “You’re young!”

“Hey, I’m going to play this board game, for ages 3 and up. Want to play? Oh, wait, you can’t. You’re young!… Fine, cry about it. Because you’re young!”

I just thought of this now, because I’m smarter. Because I’m old.

But people do say some things specifically to be annoying. Take, for example, the people who yell, “tekiyah!” when you blow your nose. Really? It’s great that they’re taking your nose blowing as a reminder to do teshuva, and that they think they’re hilarious and that no one has ever made this joke before, and they’re wondering why you’re not laughing along with them. As you’re blowing. But they’re doing it wrong. The ba’al makreh doesn’t announce what the ba’al tokeiyah is going to blow after he blows it. Otherwise they’d be stuck in a loop all day. (Blow. “Tekiyah!” Blow. “Tekiyah!”) Move on! If I’d make this joke, which I never would, I’d say, “Shevarim-teruah!” Then the guy might actually respond by making three medium bursts, followed by 9-18 short bursts, followed by, if he has anything left, a tekiyah gedola. He might have to change shofars in middle.

Could someone remind me why it’s acceptable to blow your nose in public again?

It’s weird that the tekiyah thing is what annoys me more.

Another annoying thing that people say is “It’s the best part.” This is usually said by someone who is trying to get you to eat something you don’t want to eat.

“You don’t like the crust? It’s the best part!”

No it’s not. No one’s buying pizza for the crust. How about we trade my crusts for your centers?

And then he pops the crust into his mouth right in front of you, just to show off. “Yum! Boy, I’m really enjoying this crust! And talking with my mouth full!”

And of course there are the people who say “entrée” when they mean “appetizer.” But I’m pretty sure they think they’re saying “on tray.”

But people don’t want your opinion. If they did, they’d say something like, “I need to pick your brain.” Which, I’m sorry, but I hate the visual that comes with that expression. Does it mean that he’s choosing your brain? You don’t get to pick your brain. You get the brain you get. Otherwise everyone who lived before us would have gotten all the good brains, and by the time we got to our generation, we’d be getting…


On the other hand, sometimes it’s good to hear the other person out, because, of course, the reason he wants to pick your brain is that “two heads are better than one.”

Are they really? Because if I had two heads, I’d get stared at a lot. But on the other hand, I could talk when I’m eating, whistle while I brush my teeth, and give myself a haircut without a mirror—or at least on one side of each head.

Though my breath-mint expenses would skyrocket.

And how would I wear knapsacks?

So the expression isn’t really true. It only works if the two heads belong to two people. And in that case, you’re leaving crucial information out of the expression. It’s actually two people who are better than one. Assuming they each have a head.

Though two people aren’t always better than one either.

“I have to go get something out of the crawl space.”

“Well, two people are better than one!”

“What? No! Get out!”

There are a lot of things we say without thinking, because they’re very easy to say. Take, for example, the verb “do.” It’s a universal verb that can mean too many things. This is something I learned back when I was in yeshiva, and my chavrusa invited me to come do avodah zara with him. I was pretty sure he meant “learn Maseches Avodah Zara,” as in “My whole yeshiva’s doing Avodah Zara this year,” but I wasn’t sure. So I did skilah with him. Meaning that I learned about skilah. In Sanhedrin. Also, I threw something at him.

Not that I’m not guilty of using mindless expressions. For example, whenever someone is looking for something, I generally help by saying, “It’s got to be around here somewhere!”

That way, they know. It’s very helpful but easy on my part, and then I can get back to standing around and picking my brain.

I also mishandle the phrase, “You too.” I bet you do too. I was at the library the other week, and the librarian gave me my books, and she said, “These are due back in three weeks,” and I said, “Thanks a lot. You too.”

What? I work here! I’m due back every day!

And then she said, “Have a good day,” which is what they always say after they tell you when you have to bring back the books, and then I realized that I’d already said, “You too.” I’d responded first by accident. I was in a rush.

So at this point, I had nothing to say, because I was clearly tired, and also it wasn’t my turn to use the head. So I made like a bird and took off, and smacked into the glass door.

That was the best part.

By Mordechai Schmutter

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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