Bruce and I were discussing the sorry state of the world the other night in our comfy gentlemen’s leather club chairs, complete with matching ottomans. while smoking some very fine Cuban cigars, (our houseboy Mickey gets them from his family in Cuba) and swilling some vintage Port I picked up at the duty-free shop in the local Walmart. It was ideal. All that was needed was a fire in the fireplace, snow outside, and the tender attentions of our housekeeper, the widow Mrs. Crosby, (no relation to the singing family of Bing or David). But we had given her her notice as times have gotten a little tight around Bruce Manor. But, that aside, life at that moment was quite good.
So after having read the evening newspaper, the last remaining one we must say and we are creatures of habit after all, Bruce and I were quite distressed about what has become of contemporary journalism. We are not suggesting that every thing written be of the level of discourse as one would experience at the Algonquin Round Table, (both of us having turned them down for inclusion; they are such snobs!), but at least perhaps with some level of thought, a soupcon of wit, intelligently written, with minimal illustration, and much insight sans opinion. Is that too much to ask? Is it?
So, it came to us after the second or third bottle of that heavenly Port, that we realized that almost everything written today is a cliche or a pale avatar of a cliche. That does however, beg the question: when does something become a cliche? In our younger years we would have replied, “Why, when we say it is so.” But truth be known, we have mellowed quite a bit since our halcyon days and reserve our rapier-like wit for those who are genuinely deserving. Or perhaps it’s the effect of the last bottle of that divine Port. Does it really matter when one’s thoughts are so pithy and insightful? An emphatic “No”.
So what, gentle reader, we’re sure you’re asking, has gotten us into such a tizzy? Why it’s the self aggrandizement people, places, or companies practice in describing themselves. This is what we mean.
Can a company or an individual describe themselves as “World Class”? How do you know how you stack up against some of the most formidable competitors when you’re doing business in Claymont, DE? Isn’t that up to the world to decide? And just what is “World Class”? Is it a level in elementary school? Is it like detention for dictators? It’s been our experience that anyone declaring themselves, their company, or an acquaintance “World Class” generally isn’t. If you are, the world knows it. If you’re not, the world is probably trying to tell you something. Listen to it!
Another one that really hacks Bruce off is “State of the Art”. He likes to jest, “Which state?” or another of his favorites, “Whose art?” Or after copious amounts of Port, “I don’t know much about art, but…” He loves the duality of that last one. He can be so esoteric sometimes. What does “state of the art” really mean? We contend there is no such thing as “state of the art”. Oh, at one time, we might have admitted to that. But now? Hardly. “State of the Art” used to mean the latest of a specific thing, process, or service. Which today would give it a life-span of approximately three nano-seconds. As our uncle, Bruce from New York would say, “I’ve got your state of the art right here! Now get away from me with that!”
No, we advise it best to stay away from cliches. We’re so over that.