I heard myself saying it recently. I was referring to someone with whom I have been working. While there have been glitches in that process (and in some of his choices for the work I might do), I nevertheless shared, “I like him as a human being.”
Talk about a lame statement!
It's a common phrase, of course. We've all used it at one time or another, and so we know what we mean. But, standing back and looking at it...
Someone from another planet – someone, say, who is not accustomed to our way with words – might be tempted to ask some follow-up questions.
And the dialogue might go something like this:
Someone from Another Planet (hereafter, SFAP):: You like him as a human being, you say? Okay, let’s say he’s a cat. Would you like him then?
Me:: Actually, he’d make a great cat. He’s very tenacious. Just never gives up.
SFAP:: Interesting. And if he were a dog?
Me:: Oh, he’d suck as a dog. Sit? Heel? Ain't gonna happen!
SFAP:: Would you like him as a camel?
Me:: Hmm… Hard to say. I haven’t been around a lot of camels. I hear they’re nasty. I hear they spit.
SFAP:: Don’t cats spit?
Me:: Well, they hiss, yeah. But, only when it’s called for.
SFAP:: Hmm… What about a cockroach?
Me:: Well, again, I gotta go with the tenacity factor. Yeah, he’d rock as a cockroach. I wouldn’t like him, because I’ve never met a cockroach that I like, but … hmm, you raise a good point. Should I respect cockroaches for their tenacity?
SFAP:: It’s really up to you, of course.
SFAP:: Suppose he were a cow? Would you give up meat?
Me:: I really don’t like where these questions are going.
SFAP:: Forget that. I was getting off point. We’re talking about how you “like” him. Would you like him as a bird?
Me:: Yeah, I think he’d make a great bird. He’d probably fly higher than a lot of other birds, or at least, he’d try to.
Me:: No. It’s more about ambition, really.
SFAP:: So do you think an ambitious bird is a good bird?
Me:: Hmm… Since you put it that way, maybe that’s not such a good fit.
SFAP:: What if he were a frog? Would you like him as a frog?
Me:: I think he’d be wasted as a frog.
SFAP:: So the frog has no use?
Me:: No. I mean, for other frogs, they’re fine. Oh, I’m confused. I mean, I like him as a human being! What’s wrong with that?
SFAP:: Then you don’t think he’s wasted as a human being.
SFAP:: What more do you need to know, then?