Monday, July 12, 2010

One or some or every or all

My problem with the word whatever isn't with the word itself. Whatever means (and I LOVE this definition) "one or some or every or all without specification." It's the way people use it that makes me want to smack them with one or some or every or all of my limbs.

It's because it's so cocky. Here's an example:
me: "Claire, would you put away the dishes? I can't pay you your allowance on Friday if you don't do what you're supposed to."
Claire [walking towards the sink]: Fine! Whatever!
me: Off with her head!

Do you see how "whatever" was completely unnecessary? She was going to do the dishes, she agreed with what I said, but she was NOT using the word the way it's meant to be used! She did not have a genuine "whatever you want mother, I want one or some or every or all of what you want" attitude! She was sarcastic about it! SARCASTIC! Who does she get THAT from???....oh.

Or "whatever" is used as bait. See if you can relate to the following dialogue:
Genevieve: Grandma, what do you want to do for Mother's Day?
Grandma: (sighs) Oh. Whatever.
Genevieve: What's the matter?

Now, would I had been prompted to ask that if the "whatever" had been a truly carefree statement? Probably not, but then I think I can count on one hand the number of times that it truly has been. My friend Thomas is one of the only people I know who I don't second guess when he says it because if there is some hesitation or problem he says what it is without baiting the other person into trying to find out what's wrong. Which is usually a disastrous quest.

person 1: Do you want to see a movie tonight?
person 2 (shrugs, looking glum): Whatever.
person 1: Um, ok. We don't have to if you don't want to.
person 2 (more emphatic and hostile): I said WHATEVER. I don't care what we do.
person 1: Yeah, but you seem to have an opinion that you're just not telling me. Are you ok?
person 2 evades the question, looks off into the sunset. A tear falls.
person 1: Are you still upset about the fight we had yesterday?
person 2: God! If you don't know - whatever!

Notice how Person 1 clearly does not know? And would like to know? But the constant repetition of the word "whatever" does not help? And see how Person 2 DOES seem to care quite a bit? I would like for those of you in the audience to please write this down, "I will never manipulate another person by misusing what is a fine word in and of itself for the purpose of evil."

Now, the word "whatev" is a different story. Whatev makes fun of whatever with no ill will. Let us explore this theory by tweaking the dialogue between Persons 1 & 2.

person 1: Do you want to see a movie tonight?
person 2: Eh. Whatev.
person 1: Hee hee hee! That still doesn't answer my question, but you are quite obviously playing with me and not being passive aggressive or confusing. I love you.
person 2: I love you too.

SEE? See how different that turned out? See how that could easily end in fantastic sex, which is the ultimate goal of one person asking another person out to see a movie in the first place?...And now my friends who read this will never agree to see a movie with me ever again.

"Whatever" arouses suspicion in the same way that the term "no offense but..." immediately puts me on my guard to be offended.

"No offense, Gen, but I don't want to come over," has a totally different effect than "No, I don't want to come over." A person simply saying that he doesn't want to come over is one thing. Maybe he's tired. Maybe he doesn't feel like driving. But "no offense" sends red flags because I don't trust it. Why would he feel like he has to say no offense? Does he think my house smells like cabbage? And maybe he doesn't, maybe he really does mean, "I hope I don't offend you in my decline of your offer, but I have had a long day and if I have to get in the car one more time I might snap and shoot everybody." Which is understandable. But still, the "no offense" triggers doubt.

And then some people use it to excuse themselves from whatever horrible thing they are about to say.
"No offense, Gen, but I don't want to come over to your house because frankly I don't want to smell like cabbage."

This dude thinks that by starting out that sentence with "no offense" he excuses himself from being offensive. It is, in his mind, a verbal contract. "I will begin this sentence with the words 'no offense' and so whatever words come after it do NOT make me an asshole." Oh, but they still do. Sorry.

Then there are times when people use it in the strangest ways.
"No offense, but can you pass the butter?"
Now I am confused. I will hesitate before I pass the butter because I must pick that question apart to find the offense in it. Surely there must be some or the person who said it would not have had to begin the sentence that way.

Clearly, children, "no offense but" causes mass hysteria. Let us eradicate cockiness by doing away with both "whatever" and "no offense but."

Having said all of this, it is highly entertaining to watch a no offense person paired with a whatever person.
"Hey, no offense, but the reason you don't have any friends is because you're a total bitch."

And this is why reality tv is so popular.

Ok so, no offense, but I have to get ready for work. SEEE! See how bitchy that was? The girl knows what she's talking about! Atleast one or some or every or all of the time.


Tom said...

Okay, so what stuck with me here was the fact that you have apparently watched American Idol. That's sad of me, but it's true. I don't think I've seen more than a minute of that on TV, although I did watch that Crystal Bowersox a bit on Youtube, and she was kind of awesome.

Oh, and put whatever in quotes at the beginning, so that it doesn't look like what it just looked like there where I wrote it without quotes and you're reading it going, "How come he wants me to put one or some or every or all of my text in quotes?" No offense!

WV: corstie - V. to spill ones coffee by placing it inside a cup already containing the remnants of yesterday's coffee. Ex: "Total corstie this AM. Wasn't even paying attention to the level of yesterday's cup before I put the new one inside it. Now I have to wear scrubs all day."

Genevieve said...

Why do I get the feeling that there are going to be a lot of smart ass remarks in response to this post?...Excellent!

Really? Is that what a corstie is? I thought it was what you call it when a corpse curtsies.

Genevieve said...

I edited out the American Idol thing. I had totally made that up and, upon reflection, realized that some people might not know me well enough to know that I was playing around with that.

melissa bastian. said...

I haven't gotten to read this post yet. I'm just here to say that I CANNOT KEEP UP WITH YOU. Me, with no kids, no nothing - you're leaving me in the freaking dust. And I mean, forget matching how much you write - I can't even read it all!

That is all.


Whatever Girl said...


melissa bastian. said...

I am sad that I did not get to read the American Idol thing, though I too have never seen the show.

"I will begin this sentence with the words 'no offense' and so whatever words come after it do NOT make me an asshole." Oh, but they still do. Sorry.

A certain portion of the American Southeast has a modified version of this, which is following a degrading or derogatory statement with "bless her little heart." As in, "That girl just never has been right in the head, bless her little heart." Fascinating sociological phenomena. Don't these people know they should just wait for the proper audience to talk smack?

Oh, also? I CAUGHT UP! Amazing. (With reading, mind you, not writing. Writing? I ain't never catchin' up.)

Genevieve said...

Mel - yay! Always happy to have your comments AND I had totally forgotten about how annoying "bless her little heart" is. Yes, same principal as "no offense but."

WG - Totally

Jenn said...

Dude, you know I would totally tell you if your house stank of cabbage.

And on the "bless his heart" thing: One of my coworkers has a cousin. She always has to think about what his real name is when she talks about him because everyone has always called him "Blessed" since he was born. Apparently he was not a cute baby and people would look at him and say, "bless his heart." I think he's in his 40s now.

Velveteen said...

What is that other word or phrase that we were discussing lately that we hate? It might be related to fight club, but I can't for the life of me remember it... Ahhh!