You know I am a giggly girl by now, right? I think loads and loads of things are funny. Even things that don’t seem funny, like Marlene Dietrich singing Where Have All the Flowers Gone. There is something about the way she sings it. It’s like she is supremely pissed off, and also painfully bored with it all. It’s funny. To me, anyway. If you know me really well, you know that I laugh a lot. If you don’t know me personally, or if you only know me from work, this may surprise you. In fact, I hardly laugh at all at work. Really, hardly ever. I have also been told that my “resting face” is somewhat serious. Someone actually said that to me once. My resting face. I think what they meant is my face when I am neither actively smiling nor frowning. Just neutral. I was like, of course my resting face is serious. Who has a resting face that’s smiley? Unless you’re Carrot Top and your face is pulled back like you live in a wind tunnel, I think everyone has a serious neutral face, don’t they?
Anyway, back to Marlene Dietrich. I know that the song is important, and historic, and political. I get it, I’m down, I appreciate that. But sometimes, it’s in the delivery. How you say something can overshadow what you say, right? This point was driven home to me by Marlene and by two other things that I witnessed yesterday.
1. Last night I was talking on the phone to Biology Girl. She and I have epic conversations where we talk about very important topics like whether Dr. Pepper is a man or a woman doctor, and how many new inductees we have for our fictional town (Polly Graph just moved in recently, in case you’re wondering). As we were talking, Bio Girl was cooking dinner. As she chopped her vegetables, she dropped the phone, almost fell down, caught herself and caught the phone, all in one fell swoop. All I heard was a slight bumping sound and a muffled “whoa!” and she was back, talking as if nothing had happened.
Me: Are you ok? What just happened?
Her: I started to slip and fall and drop the phone, but managed to stay standing and chopping, while I caught the phone in my other hand.
Her: I know! I am like a one-man Charlie Chaplin over here!
A one-man Charlie Chaplin. As opposed to a five-man Charlie Chaplin? How many people was Charlie Chaplin, exactly? Just one, right? So why would you compare yourself to someone else by saying you were a one-man them? I’ll tell you why. Because it sounds more impressive that way. Go ahead and try it. The next time you: cook a great meal, say “hey! I’m a one-man Mario Batali!” or strike a papparazi-worthy pose, say “what can I say? I’m a one-woman Paris Hilton!” or forget where you left your keys, say “Lookee that! I’m a one-man Alberto Gonzales!” It inflates the awesomeness. It’s great marketing.
2. I’ve been doing some research on plants and trees and stuff (see how knowledgable I am about it? I said plants and trees. Like trees aren’t plants or something. And let’s also point out how I included the all-important “stuff” in there too. Plants. Trees. Stuff. All things I obviously know lots and lots about). Come spring, I have to decide what to plant in my naked yard and so I have to think about that and wrap my mind around it. I was looking at this website, which is put out by an awesome organization called Plant Amnesty. They have lots of cool stuff on there about urban ecology and all kinds of stuff that I need to know but don’t. Anyway, there’s this section of the website that talks about the practice of “topping” trees. This is when people really prune the shit off the top of a tree, or even just cut off the top of the tree all together. It’s fairly common I guess, and apparently it is not a healthy thing to be doing, according to Plant Amnesty and other arborist sites I’ve seen. On this site, they talk about all the things that are not good about tree topping, and all of it makes sense. It’s not healthy for trees, it’s dangerous. All practical, good advice that is clearly reasoned out. Then, the last reason that you shouldn’t top a tree? “It makes you look bad.” It totally says that! If you top a tree, you will LOOK BAD. Plant Amnesty is trying to shame you out of topping your trees! They follow this statement with “Topping makes you appear to be a cruel or foolish person.” Oh man! Harsh! Really, is this the way that people are going to get other people to do the right thing? “You better recycle, or your neighbors will HATE YOU.” “Hey, make a donation to the Red Cross or your house will be EGGED.” “Pay off your credit cards or no one will SIT WITH YOU AT LUNCH.” Wow. Plant Amnesty is like a one-woman Joan Rivers on the red carpet with that attitude.
Remember, it’s all in how you say something. And also, if you don’t pay your library fines, society will revile you. I’m just saying.