As I have gotten older, I have observed (vicariously, through my wife) that I have gotten more irritable and cranky at times. I’ll admit it. But it is the little things that bug me the most.

It seems the propensity of salespeople or others attempting to convince me of some point of view to preface their pitch with “I’ll be honest with you,” “I’m going to tell you the truth,” or “Let me be frank.” In my youth, I let that pass without the slightest thought – well, except for once in my thirties when my best friend, “Elmer,” decided to be known as “Frank” forevermore.

I guess that was somewhat reasonable. He had stated long ago that he hated the name “Elmer” or being called “Junior” by his family, his dad being “Elmer senior.” So at his midlife point, he suddenly chose to use his middle name, “Frank,” instead. He insisted from that point on that he be addressed as such, and would become upset if we slipped and called him “Elmer.” My wife refers to him as “the (last name) formerly known as Elmer”.

That was my one exception to letting anyone “be frank” in my adult life. It seems that if people are letting you know that now they will be truthful, must they have been lying before? Perhaps they really are not intending to tell the truth now? When I hear one of these phrases, I retort, in jest, as to when they were being truthful. I do try to say it with humor. My friends consider me diplomatic, so I suppress my irritation. Nonetheless, it does irritate me, and I have no doubt that it comes across as such, no matter how much I make light of it.

I suspect there are others that are annoyed by this as well. Even some of those perpetrators may be vexed by similar statements from others. No matter, we are not going to change those folks making those noisome statements. By all my own logical thinking, I know that it is counterproductive to be affected by petty things, but in spite of this reasoning – and I have reasoned this out – I still hang on to my pet irritant.

I have discovered the truth of it, though. Egads! I actually enjoy it. I seem to get some perverse pleasure in hearing someone state they are going to start telling the truth, especially if I have delivered a clever retort. Yeah, I know it doesn’t mean in most cases that the individual was lying in earlier statements, although in some cases, I tend to wonder.

My wife says that the person using those expressions is just indicating they are sharing something they wouldn’t normally, that “being frank” means lowering one’s social “shield,” saying what they really think despite appearances to the contrary. But even she says that some use it too automatically and unnecessarily.

Another person I know has a pet peeve – when people ask “Really?” in response to some statement. To that person, it seems to indicate that what was said was not true. For many, my wife says, it is just a way of showing that they are surprised by what they heard, that it was unexpected. But she is college educated, ha!

I am curious how you, the reader, respond to these phrases? Do you notice? Do they annoy you? Do you get a charge out of making a clever comeback? Drop me a line and let me know.

Jerry My Mind Laid Bare

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