Empty

Of Chinese restaurants and clichés

People in my village are eschewing the local Chinese restaurant. (Y’know, I’ve never cared for that word eschew, which has nothing to do with chewing — it’s from mid-14th century Old French eschiver, to shun, to avoid.)

But I digress, as the cliché goes — now there’s a word that itself has become a cliché, and sticking the acute accent on the ‘e’ doesn’t help, in fact it gives the word a snobbish élite look — ah-ha, there’s another word I don’t like: élite, acute accent and all.

Speaking of clichés, an English professor who read some of my stories warned me to Beware the dreaded cliché! I do try to avoid clichés — and to a large extent adjectives and similes and other “defective ammunition,” as Hemingway called them — but the insidious bastards do creep in when my guard is down.

You could say I avoid clichés like the plague and try not to be vague but rather clear as a bell but time will tell and the clock is ticking but I’m still kicking and playing nice and paying the price and pay as you go and take it slow and take it or leave it and down the hatch and I’ve met my match and no pain no gain and down the drain and up the creek and full of pique and void of hope at the end of my rope on my last legs and down and out and drunk as a skunk and in a blue funk and down on my knees and who moved the cheese and up to my neck a total wreck and don’t delay seize the day and grab a bite go fly a kite and string her along but do her no wrong and don’t mess the dress I must confess and skirt the truth and don’t waste your youth you’ll soon be old when all is told full of woes and so it goes…

But again, I digress. Where was I? Oh, yes, the local Chinese restaurant. I’ve been getting take-out there for three years and it’s always been crowded — because the food is excellent — but now I go in and it’s practically empty, often just me and another guy. If this keeps up, there will be an OUT OF BUSINESS sign in the window. Sad.

9 thoughts on “Of Chinese restaurants and clichés

  1. I’ve enjoyed this post a lot. Really. I have no idea who told you about taking care of the clichés (a typical must in teaching creative writing), but I would add: beware of taking too much care about, or trying hard to avoid using them. To me, your writing is awesome. It is fresh, direct (hope I’m not using clichés now). I don’t want to make it long. I enjoy reading your writing just as it is. I love that great exercise, the middle parragraph with all kinds of “commonplaces” in use 👍🏻… As for the poor Chinese restaurant. It’s dumb foolish, this situation.

    1. Thank you, Olga, for saying that. The English prof is now Professor Emeritus and published poet E.R. Baxter III who lives in Niagara County, NY. I agree that we shouldn’t be paranoid about the use of cliches, sometimes they are just the right word or phrase in a particular context. And yes, this Chinese situation can so easily and unnecessarily turn into a panic. When you consider the populations of China, and now the U.S. and other countries, the incidence of the virus is small relatively speaking, even relative to the tens of thousands of deaths from the common flu.

      1. My respect s then for this friend of yours. He’s really someone in the subject. Thank you for your reply. I seriously think sometimes the fuss is to silence something else.
        On the other hand, I still think your writing is very good, even playing with clichés. My best regards.

  2. Your cranky little essay gives me such a good laugh, leaving me so out of breath that I am not able to express how much I enjoy it. So I will just say I am happy you’re still kicking and avoiding clichés, even though the clock is ticking as we all know. And thanks for the language lessons – I really need a teacher nearly as good as Professor Emeritus …

  3. Sorry Mich, I realize my second language inability has made me sound not exactly what I meant to sound again (it happens more often than I can afford). What I intended to mean by saying “even though the clock is ticking as we all know” is actually something more like “even though we all know everyone’s clock is ticking” … Does the second try make it sound any better? Not really, I know. I feel so powerless fighting this losing battle with language🦂

    1. Dot, there was nothing amiss in your reply. There’s no “losing battle” going on here. I didn’t even know English is not your first language until I just read your bio, which is great, by the way. So, please, keep on doing what you’re doing, and thanks for reading my posts. Billy Mich.

      1. Thanks Billy 🍑 I need as much reassurance as I can get, particularly from someone like you whose writing has every word in its lawful place, except the clichés … And I appreciate you reading my bio, now I know it’s written for you to read 🦋

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