Tuesday, February 27, 2007

HTT, you're driving me crazy!

Dear HTT,

Ever since I found out you named your column "Here’s the thing…" I’ve noticed that I use that phrase all the time! I can’t figure out whether I’ve always said it and just never paid attention, or if I’ve just picked it up. In either case, it's starting to make me a little crazy. I’m a teacher, so I do a fair amount of public speaking, and I’m getting self-conscious about how often I start an explanation with "well, here’s the thing." How can I either stop using the phrase or stop obsessing over it?

HTT squared

Dear HTT squared,

I should recuse myself from answering this question, because I’m not an impartial observer. But you wrote to me, so I’ll try to tackle it.

Before I address your mental health, though, I do want to say this: does your quandary not prove the genius of the phrase as a title for my column? (I didn’t come up with it, so I’m not being completely immodest.) It’s working on a subliminal level, whether you’re using the phrase more than ever or merely noticing something you’ve said all along.

And you want my advice on how to stop saying it? Oy, what a conflict of interest! Does McDonald's want you to forget "two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun"? I think not. I mean, I’m pretty certain Mickey D's hasn’t used that campaign in years, and the phrase still rolls off my tongue as easily as my social security number.

I’m sorry you feel self-conscious about how often you say "here’s the thing." Don’t you think the first few people to say "iPod" felt a little silly? It’s goofy-sounding when you get right down to it. But now it’s used so frequently, that it’s practically generic, like Band-Aid. (I hope no one from Apple is reading this.) Point being, maybe someday it will be cool to say "here’s the thing"! People will give a knowing wink when they say it; there’ll be T-shirts and bumper stickers; I’ll have television ads with a hip music soundtrack.

O.k., maybe not. In fact, I suspect I have a readership of three or four, so it’s unlikely that anyone you lecture to is going to give a knowing wink when you say "here’s the thing." You’re probably the only one who notices that you say it frequently. If you can remember that, will you feel less awkward about it? I hope so, because while I’d like the phrase to be memorable, I don’t want it to drive you to the brink.

Best wishes,


Anonymous said...

Those people who came up with the title of your column must be just outstanding individuals. I tell you, they just must be terrific.

-- 1313

Suzanne said...

Well, clearly!

Nitpicker said...

I'm pretty sure that was McDonalds... It's the Big Mac that had special sauce and a sesame seed bun, right?

Suzanne said...

Thanks, NP, you're right! BK was "hold the pickles, hold the lettuce. Special orders don't upset us. All we ask is that you let us serve it your way."

Suzanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Am I the only person who finds it a little distressing that we can all remember fast food advertising slogans verbatim? Ask me to remember why I came into the room I'm in, and I have no idea... But I can sing "Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce..." and "Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese..." without missing a word (or a note)! Sigh...