Tales From A Hungry Life

July 2, 2014

Bonfire of the Clichés

by Maria Schulz

The 4th of July is almost here, and I can’t wait. It always makes me think of family get-togethers, pool parties, roasted marshmallows, cook-outs, and of course fireworks.


I can remember being a little kid at my cousin Eleanor’s house, waving a sparkler and watching the big kids set off the cherry bombs, M80s, comets and Roman candles. It was always a celebration of our most basic freedoms, including the right to set yourself on fire.

It also makes me think about all the freedoms we enjoy in this country. One of my favorites is freedom of speech. Everyone knows you can’t yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater and not get in trouble, but you can express your views intelligently, and even not so intelligently, here in America.

Trust me, it’s a big deal. If you go visit some other countries around the world and let them know exactly what you think of them, you might have to wait to tell me what happened until after you get out of prison.

There are times, however, when the ability to hear exactly what other people feel free to say gets on my nerves. That’s when people share their tired, worn clichés with me.


So funny

So funny

Remember those Dean Martin Roasts from back in the day? I used to watch them with my grandmother, and we always cracked up. If Don Rickles was insulting Dean Martin, Phyllis Diller, Sammy Davis Jr., or Joey Bishop, we were in!

So, in that spirit, welcome to my Cliché Roast. Ready for some fireworks? Let’s go.

Eight Clichés That Drive Me Crazy

1. If you set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

Really? Suppose I want to fly. If I climb up onto my roof, set my mind to it, and run like the wind, will I be able to fly once I leap off?

Um, no. What I will be able to do is crash to the ground, break every bone in my body and most likely die. So, as I lay there thinking my last thoughts, it will probably occur to me:

Setting my mind to something does not mean I can accomplish ANYTHING!

Now he can fly

Now he can fly

2. Failure is not an option.

Oh, so I see how this works. I simply tell myself that, under no circumstances, am I allowed to fail. I get it! If only I had known that back in Geometry class. This, by the way, is the kind of thing that psychos and contestants on Chopped tell themselves all the time, right before they fail spectacularly.

Let’s see how this works in the real world. Suppose that tomorrow I decide to run for President of the United States. I will shake hands, kiss babies, and get my name on the ballot after knocking on 10,000 doors to get people to sign my petition.

On Election Night, I will wait until my opponent calls to concede defeat, because failure is NOT AN OPTION.

Except…that phone call will never come because FAILURE IS AN OPTION.

3. He/She is in a better place.

I realize that people don’t know what to say when someone dies. So what I usually say is…“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Anything else I say will probably come out wrong and expose me as an idiot and/or infuriate the bereaved.

I know what you mean when you say “he’s/she’s in a better place,” but day one is not the time to say this to me. It makes me wonder: is she on vacation in Paris? Is he out in the yard, tending his tomatoes?

Also…he/she has gone on to his/her great reward. Which from what I can tell from this part of the funeral parlor, ain’t so great.

4. It’s only a dog/cat.

If you say, “You look like you lost your best friend,” and I reveal that my beloved pet has died, please do not say:

a) “Oh cheer up. It’s only a dog/cat

b) “He/she is in a better place”

c) “He/she has gone on to his/her great reward”

None of those responses will make me stop crying, and may actually lead me to do something we’ll both regret. “I’m sorry” is a better choice. In fact, say: “I’m sorry” whenever you’re in doubt. Then you won’t be sorry.

My beloved pet was NOT JUST A DOG/CAT to me.

My dog is cool.

My dog is cool.

5. Everything Happens For a Reason.

Well now…that makes perfect sense! Let’s say I fell down two flights of stairs. Apparently, there was a greater cosmic purpose for this event that will eventually become apparent to me, maybe even before I get out of this full body cast.

And maybe that job I loved and lost while I was on the mend was taken away for the advancement of my soul, or to make the universe whole again.

Eh…I’m not buying it. I most likely fell down the stairs because I’m a klutz and I lost my job because the economy tanked. The universe is still not whole and I’m jobless and arthritic.

Sometimes, life is just a series of random, awful events and…THERE IS NO REASON.

6. Love is the Answer

Really? What was the question?



7. You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too

But I want cake. What’s the point of having it if I can’t eat it? Oh wait. I understand now. I’m eating my cake anyway.

8. There Are No Stupid Questions

Wait a minute…that can’t be right. Here are a few:

  • Who was buried in Grant’s Tomb?
  • Do you like chocolate?
  • Do you want to have your cake and eat it too?
  • Is failure an option?
  • Do you think I can accomplish anything if I set my mind to it?

If you haven’t heard a stupid question today, you’re just not listening.

Here we go….

Here we go….

So, to recap:

1. You cannot fly

2. You can fail, and that’s okay. That option is always on the table…just like chocolate.

3. When someone dies, “I’m sorry” always works

4. Ditto, when a pet dies, “I’m sorry” works here too

5. Life is random. God is not out to get you

6. Love isn’t always the answer

7. Cake is the answer

8. There are no stupid questions. Just stupid people.

P.S. If you’re not laughing…I’m sorry.


Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding

Love him or hate him, Gordon Ramsey is definitely a man who enjoys the freedom to say exactly what’s on his mind. This is what GR said he would eat if he had to choose his last meal.

If it's good enough for Gordon, it's good enough for me

If it’s good enough for Gordon, it’s good enough for me

(roast beef photo: found on Seriouseats.com)

Looks like my kind of book

Looks like my kind of book

(Photo of Book Jacket for Last Supper, found on Seriouseats.com)


So, Hungry Lifers…do you have any words, phrases or clichés that drive you crazy? What would your last meal be? Which freedom are you thankful for? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks, and have a happy 4th of July.




  1. CAKE is the answer!!! I knew it! I just KNEW it!! Thanks, Maria, for the morning smile. 🙂

    Comment by Francine LaSala's Clippings In The Shed — July 2, 2014 @ 10:15 am | Reply

  2. It is a good thing you didn’t include “Father knows best.” because we know Father always knows best! Don’t we? However, the older I get the funnier people get, not me of course, them. By the way here’s a non sequitur, remember how the bottle rocket noise used to drive Henry crazy which it never seemed to bother Goldie? Remember “Father know best! Right?

    Comment by Bglou — July 2, 2014 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

    • Poor Henry! Yes I do remember how crazy the fireworks made him. Btw I was never a big fan of Father Knows Best. Marcus Welby, MD was more my style. Thanks for reading and commenting, as always.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 2, 2014 @ 10:06 pm | Reply

  3. Funny post, Maria! Your snarky sense of humor is in top form! It was meant to be. It takes two to tango. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. But I like those! And I like the ones you picked, too. Guess I’m a big, sappy cliche.

    Comment by Lisa — July 3, 2014 @ 5:27 pm | Reply

  4. Maria, the one I hate is, “God doesn’t give anyone anything they can’t handle.” Tell that to the people who try to/succeed at committing suicide. Maybe it was the plan all along and the option was to succeed? We are just people who try to make things better by coming up with the answers. Unfortunately these answers create more questions, anger, and assaults on others belief systems. I remember telling a religious person who lost her dog that he was waiting for her in heaven and that he will be there for her. Her response, “dogs don’t go to heaven!” My bad, I should have left it as, ” I’m Sorry.”

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — July 14, 2014 @ 10:45 am | Reply

    • Wait a minute…dogs don’t go to Heaven? Where do they go? You will find me there.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 14, 2014 @ 11:28 am | Reply

      • All I know is that if animals are not in Heaven, it can’t be Heaven!

        Comment by Tony Lagalante — July 14, 2014 @ 11:29 am

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