Do you really know what you’re saying or do you just enjoy using that word?

I thought it might be fun to review some of my favorite exclamations whose meanings don’t necessarily align with what we know them to mean in contexts of great excitement and exuberant expression.

Check out Cool. The description the dictionary gives is:

imparting a sensation of moderate coldness or comfortable freedom from heat: a cool breeze.

I don’t know about you, but when I say cool in appreciation of something, I’m not seeking to impart some personal information about the temperature adjustments I’m experiencing because of what I’m enjoying.

One I don’t really use myself, but enjoy the thrust with which others use it, is Get out! The definition goes like this:

Chiefly British . a method or maneuver used to escape a difficult or embarrassing situation; cop-out: The scoundrel has used that get-out once too often.

Funny, but I’ve never heard this expression used that way. People are either using it to tell someone that their departure is desired immediately or as a way to let their hearer know that they can’t stay in the same mental room with what information or concept is being discussed.

No way! is, of course, pretty similar. The description for it’s use is given this way:

No! (Compare this with Way!) :  She can’t do that. No way!

It’s interesting that the person who is usually saying this (with all the force of a verbal tornado) is either visibly pleased with what they are saying should not be or they are so disturbed that people like me are inclined to be glad that whatever they’re reacting to is so because I wouldn’t get to enjoy their vivid response.

One I must admit that I overuse is Sweet. What am I saying when I use this term? Technically, I am letting you know that what I recognize what I’m complementing as

having the taste or flavor characteristic of sugar, honey, etc. which may or may not be

producing the one of the four basic taste sensations that is not bitter, sour, or salt.
I’m letting you know that I don’t think what you’ve just told me or shown me is rancid or stale; thus, if it were milk that I had the choice of drinking, I would not have the fear of it being bitter. (Yay for you! But that’s another exclamation that I don’t plan to discuss in this post.)

And now, for the one that I always get a kick out of hearing someone spring on another: Shut up! What is the meaning for this one?

to put (a door, cover, etc.) in position to close or obstruct.
I may be smiling when I say this, but perhaps I am covertly informing you that I would like you to assume an indefinite silence after what I’ve just heard from you.
to close the doors of (often followed by up ): to shut up a shop for the night.
Yeah, the more I think about it, there’s no way someone could say Shut up! and not mean it…this way.
to confine; enclose: to shut a bird into a cage.
…Would you agree?
Let me leave you with this thought: When you want to express your delight or shock to someone go ahead and use any of these words above that you like. Just remember, they don’t really mean what you’re using them to say!
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I’m just not exactly sure what you mean…

Have you ever seen something that you weren’t sure you were actually seeing? I did in a recent trip to Indiana. We had stopped at Payless to buy some flip-flops that I really needed. When we were leaving the shopping area, we passed a store with a name that demanded we read slowly. I even found it necessary to take a minute and meditate on the mystery of its meaning. The words were put together like this (Now, don’t be ashamed if this takes you several readings to clearly decipher; you’re in good company):

Fro Yo Your Way

First of all, flashing back to that original introduction and appraisal, I’m wondering…a few things. First, I want to know what a midwestern location like this innocent-looking, little store is doing with an identifier that, to me, screams gangsta. To my fellow peeps I’m like, “Slow yo roll! Did you jus see that sign!”

Second, I’m feeling a bit confused. The type of service this shop is offering doesn’t seem to fit with the social climate indicated by the surrounding shops. (Translation: I wasn’t seeing many people walking around with trippin-out hair-jobs.)

Third, I have a few suggestions for more customer-savvy names. For instance, “Yo fro comin at ya your way!” or “Fro me!” Another one that might not be half bad is “Fro-zactly like I like it.” (Obviously the visionaries for this establishment had not thought out the marketing end of their business as well as they might have.)

But, in case you are wondering what this shop was actually doing in that part of town and why its name fell so far short of its potential, prepare yourself for a bit of disappointment: It was a frozen yogurt shop!

Funny for no fantastic reason!

Funny things happen to each of us every day. They hide under the guise of ordinary things. Sometimes we need to sharpen our radar so we don’t miss them. They are God’s little gifts to help us walk through life and its trials with resilience and joy. Crack a smile today and let go of a little laugh. If you need a little help, sample some of these tummy-tumbler tee-hees.

Toto, tata, tee-tee…today is your day to get your teeth waxed!

Aren’t you glad you didn’t treat your sinus infection back when it was weaker, now that you need an excuse to stay home from work?

Don’t remember where your keys are? Try checking the attic, where you sent your husband long before dark…

People who doze, grouse and mosey around…they just don’t come around as often now that I cleaned out the flower beds of all my pet-une-yas that kept calling them over.

Remember how things were when you kids were young, because you are the only one who will…

Think you’re having a day of trauma today? Why not look ahead at the stuff planned for next week and be pleasantly relieved that God didn’t let Satan have a heyday and schedule it all for you today! Perhaps today isn’t so un-fantastic as you thought!

Feel like you’re wilting in the sun? Maybe you should be glad that you’re not blooming in the shade.

Fighting off gloom to get a laugh

Some days, and some seasons in our lives, laughter just isn’t funny. At times we feel like it should be banished from the earth. Why should anyone laugh when we cannot? we ask. Humor can seem like a cruel joke, not a balm to the soul. If this is the case for you today, I pray that you may find some hope in these thoughts that don’t exclude pain from heart-lifting ruminations.

First I’ll start with some book titles that I can’t help enjoying when I read them–even though they don’t make for the most pleasant samples around:

My favorites come from Barbara Johnson who writes about the pain of broken dreams from candid experiences of desperation and hope. As I read her stuff I am reminded to praise God that He never dabbles in wishy-washy hope and pipe dreams, but always gives us the real thing in personal portions. The titles are…

I’m So Glad You Told Me…What I Didn’t Wanna Hear and

Mama, Get the Hammer! There’s A Fly on Papa’s Head! (I have a secret delight in fantasizing about the fun this one would be–not so much to read–but to put to the test in real life!)

Another one I enjoy–though can’t bring myself to read–is a work I found in the early days of my reading career. It was haply called: And You Give Me a Pain, Elaine! To say that I resented the premise of the book is an understatement. There is no way the un-abidable character in the story shared my name! (It became a matter of survival to make sure that my brothers didn’t find the book and use it’s cancerous message against me!)

[Check these titles out for their literary benefits at http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/search?author=Barbara%20Johnson&detailed_search=1&action=Search and http://www.amazon.com/And-You-Give-Pain-Elaine/dp/0671688383.]

Second, what if we talk about some bizarre inventions that were meant to make our lives easier, but seem to have failed in doing the trick? My favorites are

a wish-bone shaped tube that would enable its smoker-users to puff away at the same cigarette simultaneously (oh, what a fun date idea! I’m surprised it’s not still in use.)

a baby-carrier that straps across the chest and around the back of both parents for ease in transporting junior while mom and dad race around the ice rink together (Wow! Doesn’t that sound like a fun ride! Can you think of one safety regulation that it would pass if it were put back on the market today?!)

a pair of glasses that niftily come with blinds already attached (they seem to have omitted the string for closing them at night.)

[Thanks to TheBerry.com (http://theberry.com/2009/11/18/these-inventions-flopped/) for featuring pictures of these odd contraptions that add nothing but laughter (and perhaps a bit of dysfunction to their original users) laughter to our lives.]

Third, has anyone tried the new non-permanent tattoo socks? I don’t know how popular they are, but depending how much you need a laugh right now, they could work with great aunts and stern folks whose reactions would be worth the loss of “proper” reputation you had with them.

[If you’re interested, check out this link to get your imagination going and your wallet spilling: http://theberry.com/2011/01/13/dont-like-permanent-tattoo-socks-might-be-the-answer-for-you-10-photos/.%5D

Well, that’s all I have for today. It’s been difficult keeping up on these weekly bursts of humor–especially since the day I need to write them always seems to fall on my most stress-filled and depression-inducing days. I sit there thinking, It’s taking all of my energy to just keep a semi-optimistic and hope-filled attitude, but really trying to be funny is just taking things too far.

But, though I don’t look forward to trying to be a comedienne, my lack of inspiration is actually a help. Being forced to look for the funny in life helps to shift my perspective from problems and tasks that seem all encompassing to the larger picture of life. I hope what you read does the same thing for you. Laughter is one more way to engage our faith in the truth that God is truly, every day–even-in-this-moment-when-we-don’t-understand-what-He’s-doing–working everything together for the good of us who love Him. Go ahead, have a mighty laugh and remind yourself that God is still in control!

Why I think the “G”s of our day are overthrowing the calibration of the universe

I’ve narrowed my focus for today’s humor post. There are a few choice thoughts on the nuances of our “G”-centered culture that I’d like to share with you. Not sure what I’m talking about? Then surely you haven’t been outside in the last 20 years. The baggy jeans which now encircle the man at some point just above the knees are a far cry from the trousers that used to be synonymous with manhood. The knickers of olden days have now been replaced by these “sliders” in the process of making their way down to the ankles. The half-section of leg once covered by clothing has been reversed. And oh, to watch those boys try to hitch their riders up enough to cross the street in a semi-hurry!

Speaking of hurry–though it pervades the work-day world, the external pace of our lives–it sure seems to be absent in the work of accelerating these pants-impaired youths on their journeys to maturity and across a busy intersection alike. If only someone would teach them just how to use their belt…World change would commence. You see, life and its concerns revolve around the little things.

Take the name that is given to the best of these gangsters. It has to be my favorite part of this slightly upside-down culture:

The term “G” is used to designate a person skilled in representing the gangsta persona. I often make the mistake of attempting to use proper pronunciation of the root word gangster and boy, do I hear about it! I guess that’s because the original Italian gangster– who was schooled in organized crime–and today’s teen “sons” (or distant cousins) of the hood–who mainly seek the aura–should not be confused.

Anyway, I find it interesting that in days past, if we happened to see a letter like G found alone, we would immediately assume that it was missing something or that it was being used to teach someone their ABCs. Now, this character holds the meaning of all things. For someone to be the embodiment of a G, he couldn’t ask for more. Especially since being a G is the one quality which instantly assures you infinite recognition and eternal honors. Wow! If you have received this title, treasure the day your life took a leap toward immortal genius, exceptional prowess and incredible humanness. You are a lucky beast!

Okay, enough of my pot-shooting. This post is proof to me that humor has great power to abuse. When I try to be funny, or just share what I find funny, I immediately present a bias. Upon further consideration, I imagine that everything I say has this effect, but humor seems to have an extra punch. I have a tendency to put people down with sudden out-bursts of sharpened whit. Others have noticed it recently and have been surprised that it should come from one who is often so quiet in group discussions–one who also has a reputation as someone “sweet.”

This contradiction reminds me of the verse that says about sweet water and bitter water not flowing from the same spring. (“Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?” James 3:11) I feel caught by these words. They challenge me and humble me. They remind me that my desire to have fun is not always pure, even if I do not detect that until after the damage is done. It shows me that purity is about more than damming up the waters before they can pass the gates of my lips, but about seeking to find their source and appeal to God to cleanse their source.

It is about recognizing that more than anyone else, I am the one who overthrows the calibration of the universe as God first intended it. I am the reason that things are a mess. Albeit not the entire reason, but certainly a big enough part that I need not occupy myself solely with looking outward and monitoring the mistakes of others. I need to ask God to give me eyes to see the errors in myself that He wants to work on. Errors that I am powerless to eliminate without His spirit because they rule me far more than I rule them. This all gives me a chance to see myself in proper perspective and groan for the love God has for people to be implanted within me.

The wonder of words that don’t make sense and the One that does

I love words, but sometimes they can really mess you up. They can seem to say one thing, and end up meaning something entirely different. Such as:

Jetsam–which is not an aircraft associated with the nickname of a famous Samuel, it is the part of a ship that has been purposely thrown overboard to lighten the ship.

Then we have words that have a verbal meaning and a noun-al meaning–one of which no one knows about until they meet a scholarly conversationalist who enjoys confusing the rest of us with their knowledge:

Jerk–which is a tug boat that could actually be a blessing to you should you find yourself committed to one (unless its hull is lacking integrity).

When you combine words, in some cases they each lose their meaning and…become something else that may still mean little to you:

Outcrop–not sure what they were thinking on this one because they certainly don’t mean a crop that is “out” there somewhere…

Which idiomatic expressions don’t strain your senses? Don’t look to one of these for a good example:

High horse–if I need to sit in a high place, which would be a better choice: this or a high-chair?

Snug as a bug in a rug–since when do we use expressions about the delight filthy bugs find in our rugs to describe how we feel when we’re comfy in bed…which hopefully have no bugs who are equally comfortable in our space?!

Consider for a moment the words that have meaning to us which can sometimes be so far off from what the actual meaning is:

You say ouch and I think hurt, sorry or stupid.

I say late and you think hurry, fast, darn.

As you can see, the connotation we apply to these words is inconsistent with the dictionary-description it’s been given. In other cases, the connotation we have seems to forget that there are multiple meanings for that same word we use:

treat and treat–one means something like desert and the other means something like medicine. Come on, can’t we get another word for one of them?

But, have you ever asked yourself what words are really for? It’s worth investigating whether there is an ultimate truth they were designed to communicate. Could it be that God invented language because He wanted to convey His love with immortal definition? Perhaps He wanted the inflection of phrases that might stay in our memory and awaken our imagination even when we were in the dark.

He decided to maintain a beauty that touches the soul even when the beauties of creation have faded and the wonders of intimate relationships have dwindled. What if He wanted a means of conveying revelation about Himself and us that would transcend the fragility of this world?

He has chosen to give us words that would be used to awaken our understanding of His Son, the living Word. He has preserved through thousands of years His written word so that the people He made might receive within their hearts the Word which gives expression to the passion of God and the need of us. In this way, who God is sinks deep into us, compelling and training us in the ways of the God who saved us from our sin and delivered us to His righteousness.

 

If our hope springs from Christ, why can’t our humor?

Things that make me laugh usually have something to do with the sound they make or the connection my brain makes with the idea  presented. In some cases I laugh because I am amused by the unusual combination of sounds in a certain word. Yet, in the case of some phrases–especially descriptions of events or idiomatic expressions that seem to have no use other than to confuse–I delight in the images that tickle my senses.

I don’t always crack up because something is so crazy in itself, sometimes–more and more these days, actually–I delight in the things my imagination makes of common occurrences in my day. It’s fun to have a private joke–something that you don’t necessary keep to yourself to deprive others of enjoying a bit of humor with you, but something that would lose its power to divert if it were removed from the soul-environment where it was conceived.

Let me share some examples with you and may joy bubble out of you too!

Words I love:

  • Pah-Hoode (or Pahud, as it is listed in the cast compilation from the movie Paul Blart, Mall Cop). I love to say this name to myself. It consists of two syllables I would never put together, but every time I say it my tongue is thankful that someone did.
  • Humdinger. I don’t know for sure if I’ve ever spotted a humdinger, but I’m sure it would please me if I did. This isn’t even something I need to understand to enjoy. That’s one of the best things about humor: It can be so innocent, so spontaneous and sweet.
  • Knee-slapper. I figure something like a humdinger must be followed by a knee-slap. There’s just no other way to celebrate such a moment of whimsy. I might add that I’m not the only person I know with an affinity for this expression. My comical cousin has gotten a lot of mileage from this expression. Every time I hear her say it, accompanied by a dramatic strike to her knee, I can’t help but smile. I not only like to enjoy things that strike me as funny, I like to be involved in what others enjoy.
  • “He blew out his knee”–a terrible thing that I find it difficult to believe actually happens. I plead with you, if you want me to be serious and sensitive to your case of muscular degeneration, be so kind as to use a more neutral expression–I can’t hold in the giggles when I hear this one. While snorting to cover my haw-haws and frowning hard to hide my scandalous facial appreciation, the only regret that comes to me naturally is that I didn’t get the chance to see it. In my mind it is a drama reminiscent of a spectacular Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. (Note to readers, if you want to keep laughing, don’t Google images of this catastrophe.)
  • And speaking of Calvin and Hobbes, these cartoons always pull off the lid of guffaws for me. I love when there is a series of his exploits concerning his experience driving out of the garage in his parents car with Hobbes, or the time he rips his pants just as recess is ending and the time for each student to do math problems on the board is, unfortunately, approaching. I am envious of the mental gymnastics he cruises through as he prepares his zany school assignments or dissects the incongruities of life on his way down a steep ravine. He reminds me of myself at times, he softens my heart toward the most annoying person I know at others.

How I love to laugh.

I want to join God in His laughter, realizing that He is the Creator of this gift of mirth as well as a great many of the things that I find so funny. Think about it, could it be that God has been laughing at some of these things for all of eternity past, waiting for us to finally discover them so that we could join Him in His chuckling?

I love that thought. I love knowing that joy comes from God and He is utterly full of it. What better truth could we find for our tired souls that lack inspiration and enjoyment in the life we live? The more we look into God’s joy, the more we find all truth to be wrapped up in this.

God has always known delight. We are the ones who have not. We have moved out of the realm of His delight and tried to create another place where we could have delight alone. It hasn’t worked. Joy is impossible without God. Joy is literally worship of the One who lavishly supplies joy to His children.

The cross, even with all of its sorrow, is filled with joy. It is our invitation to be reunited with the Father’s heart. Christ’s death fully acquainted Him with all the joylessness of our God-less existences. His resurrected life now intersects judgment with mercy. When we receive this life as our own, we are reawakened to joy.

We come to know joy as a Person, One whose essence wells up within us and makes us people who can endure all things because we know that hell has been removed from the roster of our destiny. Punishment has been meted out to our Friend the Savior, and we worship Him without compulsion, but with joy in the victory He shares with us.

Joy shows up in our life every day because of Christ. For some of us, it makes a difference not only in how we feel inside and what we hold dear, but in how we sound and react to life as well. Just laughing shows off what miracles He has done in our lives. The closer we get to God, the more we express our unity with Him.

I was so serious and hurt before, but because of what God’s presence has done in my life, I now need little excuse to laugh. I want to squeeze everything I can out of joy-inducers around me. Another thing is that I use every opportunity to express the joy that is already inside. And I hope when I laugh that I give others joy and remind them that there is a reason to delight in humor even with all that is going wrong in the world. Our hope springs from Christ–so why can’t our humor?