Wednesday, September 14, 2011

...As A Human Being

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.

Me:: Right.

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.

SFAP:: Tenacity?

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.

Me:: No.

SFAP:: What more do you need to know, then?


Cheryl said...

Thankfully I don't use that expression so I'm in little danger of ever having this conversation. I think my head just spun around 6 times.

Sarah Pearson said...

I have random conversations like this in my head all the time - and I'll never use that phrase again :-)

Jess said...

Haha I love this! Really made me laugh! Thanks for sharing :)

Jaye Viner said...

I think you had fun with this.

Kristy said...

So, as long as we're human, you like us, right? :)

Melissa Sarno said...

This is brilliant. As a human being, I like this.

Marlena Cassidy said...

Ah, I loved this. When you think about it, some phrases that we use are just...weird. Like when you see something cute and you're all like, "It's so cute I could just gobble it right up!" That's terrifying when you stop and think about what you're saying.

Sioux said...

I probably have said this, but never again. Thanks for the humorous reminder, Katie.

Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop! said...

Love this. It is a strange statement. What a humorous take!

Susan Oloier said...

I don't think I've ever used that expression. But I like your run of dialogue :-)
Thanks for visiting my blog. I am already inspired by Ann Patchett by reading T&B. I have Bel Canto on my bookshelf. I will push it up, for sure!

Anonymous said...

I was just writing something last night and said "Chip became a dad for the third time today," and then I thought wait a minute, once a dad always a dad, right?
Also, thanks for the words on the whole awards thing. As you said, clearly the Pulitzer would be worth making an exception for.

Martha Mawson said...

You made me smile - very amusing dialogue!

TirzahLaughs said...

As my nephew said when he was five--what did a human bean taste like? Cause he didn't like navy beans, they tasted weird.

And that's all I have to say about that.



Linda Medrano said...

I think I'm more inclined to say "I like him as a person" but ... not as a boyfriend, a boss, a husband, etc. Still I might like him better as a pie, you know?

The Writing Well said...

I love this post and your blog this is why I visit. This can be like Dr.Seuss for adults ...very funny. I gave you an award on my blog today. I hope you will accept.

Pauline said...

Hi Kaite. Fellow campaigner stopping by to say hi. Im a literary/historical fiction writer. Look forward to watching your blogs. Pauline.

Deb Shucka said...

I love the humor here, but love even more the thinking it's provoked. We so often say that about people who have power over us and are not using it well.

Lisa Potts said...

Fun post! When you said you like him as a human being, was it meant in a nice way? Because I've heard it used both nicely and not-so-nice.

Andrea said...

Thanks for the clever way this causes me to question what it is we mean when we say those words--someone just barely scraping past the goal post of being fit to live, i.e., not "wasted" (in our opinion) entirely. I love it when you take things apart and look at them closely. You shine a bright and funny light.