Friday, August 21, 2015

Takes One to Know One!

Thought for the day:  Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. 

[morguefile]
Remember when kids used to yell that old sticks and stones chestnut at each other on the playground? Oh, and how about this one:  I'm rubber, you're glue; what you say bounces off me, and sticks on you. And let's not forget: I know you are, but what am I? (Nanny, nanny, boo boo!)

Yeah, as kids, some of us got our kicks by hurling silly insults at other kids, some of which made absolutely no sense, but we all had an arsenal of snappy, equally silly things to say in response, too. Part of being a kid, I guess. And nowadays, it seems to be part of being a politician, too. I mean, really. Think about it. A lot of today's politicians seem to get an awful lot of childish pleasure out of talking trash and calling each other names, and with about as much maturity as we used to show on the playground. It's either a case of arrested development, or an attempt to distract us from the fact they aren't actually doing anything or communicating like actual grown-ups. Some of our politicos may, indeed, be poopy-heads, but it would be nice if they all put their smelly heads together every once in a while so they could attack some of today's pressing issues instead of attacking each other.

But ya know, if they must insist on flinging mud and insults at each other, the least they could do is be more creative about it. Why should they limit themselves to calling each other stupid or liar, when insults can be... entertaining. Amusing. Classy, even.


Winston Churchhill  {wikipedia]
Now, Winston Churchill had a real knack for issuing classy insults. Like these gems:

He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.

A modest little person, with much to be modest about.

He had an inordinate talent for comebacks, too, like when equally witty George Bernard Shaw wrote these words to him: I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend ... if you have one. 

Churchill responded: Cannot possibly attend the first night; will attend second ... if there is one.





Oscar Wilde  [wikipedia]

People like Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain are fairly well-known for their deliciously clever insults, but you might be surprised by the sources of some of these witticisms:
  • I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.  Clarence Darrow
  • He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.  William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)
  • Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?  Ernest Hemingway
  • Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it.  Moses Hadas
  • He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know. Abraham Lincoln
  • I've had a perfectly lovely evening. But this wasn't it.  Groucho Marx
  • I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.  Mark Twain
  • He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.  Oscar Wilde
  • I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here.  Stephen Bishop
  • He is a self-made man, and worships the creator.  John Bright
  • I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial.  Irvin S. Cobb
  • He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others.  Samuel Johnson
  • He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.  Paul Keating
  • He had delusions of adequacy.  Walter Kerr
  • There's nothing wrong with you reincarnation won't cure.  Jack E. Leonard
  • He has the attention span of a lightning bolt.  Robert Redford
  • They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.  Thomas Brackett Reed
  • He inherited some good instincts from his Quaker forebears, but by diligent work, he overcame them.  James Reston (about Richard Nixon)
  • In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.  Count Charles Talleyrand
  • He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.  Forrest Tucker
  • Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?  Mark Twain
  • His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.  Mae West
  • Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.  Oscar Wilde
  • He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts ... for support rather than illumination.  Andrew Lang
  • He has Van Gogh's ear for music.  Billy Wilder
  • Don't think I don't know who's been spreading gossip about me. After all the nice things I've said about that hag. When I get hold of her, I'll tear out every hair of her mustache. Tallulah Bankhead, referring to Bette Davis
[morguefile]

Movies can be a source of wildly creative insults, too. Here's one of my favorites:

I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!

Okay, so that one wasn't exactly classy, but it is funny. [For those of you who don't already know, that line came from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.] 

What's your favorite insult line from a movie?

People like Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain are well-known for their witty insults, but you may find the sources of some of these insults to be somewhat surprising:

William Shakespeare [wikipedia]



If your brains were dynamite, there wouldn't be enough to blow your hat off.  [Kurt Vonnegut, Time Quake]

In my mind, Martha, you are buried in cement right up to your neck. No... right up to your nose... that's much quieter.  [Edward Albee, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf]

I never saw anybody take so long to dress, and with such little result.  [Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest]

He would make a lovely corpse.  [Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit]

The man is as useless as nipples on a breastplate.  [George R.R. Martin, A Feast for Crows]

And a couple from Shakespeare, the ultimate master of slings and arrows:

Thou art a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver'd, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue, one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mungril bitch. [from King Lear]

I desire that we be better strangers.  [from As You Like It]

I could go on with lots more Shakespearean insults, but instead, how about a giveaway? Yeah, how about your very own box of classy Shakespearean barbs? And not only that, this box of insults actually helps heal some wounds...

Yep. Adhesive bandages that both deliver a classy insult, and soothe your boo-boos. Is that cool, or what?

I simply couldn't resist buying them when I saw them at the Fernbank Museum gift shop. Bought two boxes, so now I'd like to give one of them to one of you. If you're interested, just hit me with your best shot. Um, not literally. Not interested in being whacked with sticks and stones here... just sock it to me with an insult, and include it in your comment. I'll pick out my favorite barb next Thursday, and will let y'all know on Friday. And I'll include a little something else in that giveaway package, too. Not sure what just yet, but I'll come up with something. And if none of you has any interest in possessing such a (ahem) valuable item, sobeit. (I mean, there are eighteen whole bandages in that box!) At least you can't say I never tried to give something away. Can't call me cheap. (I'm frugal, people. Frugal!)

[morguefile]

Oh, and lest you think I take the power of hurtful words lightly, I don't. I come from a generation of kids who collected cards containing funny insults. I repeat... funny. Our insults were funny, sometimes clever, and rarely mean in tone. Not as clever as Churchill or Shakespeare, but pretty darned good for a bunch of kids. And a lot better than what a bunch of grown politicians use these days. I DO believe words can hurt... even more than sticks and stones.

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But words have also hurt me;
Though sticks and stones can make me bleed,
Some words, like ghosts, still haunt me.
Cutting words can leave deep scars
On minds and hearts so tender;
Cuts and bruises are quick to heal,
But words we'll long remember. 

                                               Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.



    Be careful with your words. Once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.



68 comments:

  1. The scars that words leave bleed forever.
    Just the same, my worser self is full of admiration for those who can coin the perfect insult/quip/reply.
    It takes me days. And days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No argument there. Some of the scars my father gave me still bleed from time to time.

      HA! I know what you mean. The comebacks don't come to mind nearly as quickly as they used to. Now, we might say something oh-so-clever, like, "Oh, YEAH???" but it isn't until we wake up in the middle of the night that the perfect rejoinder finally pops into our head.

      Delete
    2. Dropping back to say thank you soooo much for you encouraging words on my last post.

      Delete
  2. Some really good insults up there. I was never one for insults. Kids would insult me, joking or otherwise, and I'd have a snappy comeback about six weeks later....
    Lots of times I confused them by saying "Thank you", that really made them back off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brilliant! I can see how saying, "Thank you" would really disarm them. :)

      Delete
  3. Unfortunately, the politicians of today merely reflect what our society has become - - vapid, rude, crude, crass, largely indifferent. I doubt if any of them could summon enough brain-power to come up with a creative insult.

    Having been the recipient of many insults in my time, I've come to loathe them. I try to avoid perpetuating them (although I'm not always successful).

    That tearing eye with the contact lens in it is rather disconcerting. Especially since I wear contacts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, I think you're right. Such a shame. I remember when intelligence and wit were considered political assets.

      Insults hurled in anger always hurt; I prefer those made in jest.

      Don't worry. That tearing eye is the wrong color to be yours. :)

      Delete
    2. One more thing, thanks for the wonderful comments that you recently left on my blog.

      Despite the enormous obstacles of our fathers, I'm glad we both survived!

      Delete
    3. Ab-so-doggone-lutely. Must be that born under the sign of the archer thing, eh? We know how to take a licking and keep on ticking.

      Delete
  4. Hi Susan - I use rapport and laugh as I say the replies .. I try not to insult - but I'm way too quick with my tongue ... the brain is pretty fast too - but not that fast!

    Love all the quotes you've given us ... incredible set of listings from many people ... Politics and Leaders today certainly aren't doing any favours for educating our youngsters ... hearing someone talk in measured tones and with apparent honesty is a pleasure: though I don't necessarily agree with what they're saying.

    It's an interesting world we live in ...enjoy those grandkids and the rest of the summer - cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Hilary.

      I hope you're still enjoying your break.

      You're a smart lady, because I think humor is the best rejoinder of all. And I'd say a quick tongue is a sign of a quick mind. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!)

      You enjoy the rest of your summer, too. Cheers!

      Delete
  5. Words uttered can never be recovered, I think. All great quotes from great people from history. Thanks for sharing this delightful read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For sure. We should always pay attention to the words we speak, not only because of their potential power to hurt or uplift, but because we never know when we may have to eat them.

      Delete
  6. "He's a very naughty boy" from The Life of Brian was pretty good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I'll bet your mom said that about you from time to time, too. :)

      Delete
  7. Groucho was the best! He was quick and witty and his insults were usually aimed at pompous bores.

    You never bore, Susan, and your quick and witty posts and comments always entertain. I would like to participate in your challenge but my brain is always in slow motion in the AM, and only on a very good day has spurts of brilliance for just a few minutes. Today might not be one of them. However, I will ponder and hope that lightening strikes. As Robert Redford said though, my attention span may only last that long. If I come up with something, I will return.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Groucho had a natural talent for put-downs and funny comments. I used to love "You Bet Your Life."

      I hope you do come back with another comment. So far, you're the only one who's even expressed an interest in participating. (So your chances of winning are reeeeeeeeeally good!)

      Delete
  8. I'm with Jon who commented above. Our politicians are crude and crass and just plain stupid because that appeals to a large proportion of our population. Sad to say, those witty insults would fly over the head of most Americans like a jet airplane. As a teacher, I certainly tried to educate the ones that came into my hands, but I was bucking the influence of TV, movies, and half the time, their own parents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The irony about the adverse influence of TV is that, once upon a time, television was touted as a means to educate and elevate the masses. And the sad thing is... it could have.

      Delete
  9. I love witticism and clever insults, so I just avoid news about the political situation in the US.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HA! It's a cinch you won't hear much in the way of witticisms and clever insults from any of our politicians these days.

      Delete
  10. I can't come up with an insult. I always liked Alice Roosevelt's "If you don't have something nice to say, come sit by me." She loved a juicy bon mot, and was quite tart tongued. Excellent blog post with great quotes all around. Stay nice this weekend. Don't be a poopy head

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good one. Eleanor came up with some doozies, too.

      HA! I'll try very very hard not to be a poopy head, but no promises... You have a super weekend, too.

      Delete
  11. Fabulous posts today !
    Such talent. I am only up to the "you old poopy head" insult.
    I agree with Jon's comment.

    cheers, parsnip

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm glad you liked it.

      Cheers back atcha! Happy weekend!

      Delete
  12. Shakespeare insults are the best! I use them with my students every year, and they love them. Thou fat-kidneyed, mildewed, harpy! etc. Great stuff!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's kinda cool that today's kids can still relate to Shakespeare. Then again, I guess it helps to have a "cool" teacher... even if she DID call me a fat-kidneyed, mildewed harpy! :)

      Delete
  13. Really enjoyable post, Susan. I'm afraid I've not mastered the art of quick insults or clever retorts but am quite adept at what the French call l'esprit d'escalier --or stairway wit-- where one thinks of a zinger comeback on the exit-stairs after its too late.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, dude.

      I never knew the name for the after-the-fact zingers that spring to mind, but I'm very talented at it. I believe it runs hand-in-hand with the affinity for waking up at three o'clock in the morning, suddenly remembering the name of the neighbor kid you used to play with sixty years ago.

      Delete
  14. Years ago, someone (Danny Thomas?) did a comedy routine where, late at night, he would think of responses to insults. He always started with, "I shoulda said..." If anyone can find it online PLEASE let me know!! May I please have a bandage?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry. I just spent a little bit of time looking, and I couldn't find a comedy routine like you're talking about. Maybe somebody else knows more about it.

      It's cool that you're interested in the bandages, but where's my bloody insult, woman???

      Delete
  15. haha flinging back good insults when done right can be fun. But when done just to be downright mean, nope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a feeling you... and your rhyming cat... know quite a bit about deflecting insults effectively, and with a chuckle.

      Delete
  16. Hey human, Susan,

    A fine collection of insults! Yes, insults can be done in a good natured banter sort of way. Heck, I insult my human and he just smiles because he knows I'm only kidding.

    Hey, thanks for sharing your pawst, which, like my human does, I thoroughly skimmed through the whole darned thing!

    Pawsitive wishes and doggy kisses,

    Penny xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Penny and Gary.

      Yes, delivering clever insults in a kidding and good-natured way is the key... as long as it isn't an everyday thing. Constantly berating someone with insults in a seemingly good-natured way can hide an underlying mean spirit. There's a big difference.

      Cheers, and kitty kisses back at ya, Penny.

      Delete
  17. Those are witty. I've had my feelings hurt, so I wouldn't say anything like that unless I knew a person really well and it's the norm to talk like that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point. It's never a good idea to say something "clever" to someone you don't know very well, especially when it's an insult. They might not have the same sense of humor. Insults like this are best shared between friends of a like mind.

      Delete
  18. How about this? "She walked in the room five minutes after her cheap perfume".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HA! Good one. I've known some people like that. Our daughter, for one. When she was a teenager, she lathered herself in so much Patchulli, (Not sure about the spelling, but it smells like rotten potatoes to me.) it got to where we wouldn't allow her to put that stuff on until after she left the house. Then when she moved out, she was holding a bottle of it in our truck when my husband drove her and a bunch of her stuff to her new place. Would you believe the lid on that bottle was broken? (Which is why she didn't pack it.) Would you believe she spilled half a bottle of that nasty stuff in our truck? (And still, we let her live...) I kid you not, when we sold that Suburban a few years later, the rotten potato scent was still lingering in there. (Yes, we tried Febreze and every other thing we could fine on it... didn't work, especially on a hot day.)

      Now? She can't STAND the smell of the stuff. With age comes wisdom. :)

      Delete
    2. I know there was a time in my life when I did the same. My daughter, brave lady that she was, clued me in that my finger was too heavy on the perfume bottle. I just wear Aveno now so I don't flake all over mine and everybody's food that I am serving.
      I tend to molt at this time of life.

      Delete
    3. I rarely wear any kind of perfume anymore, especially not in public. Too many people seem to have allergies these days.

      I dunno about molting, but I found two extra-long hairs in my cereal this morning, and I can't blame them on Smarticus or the cats...

      Delete
  19. Hahaha...I loved your list of clever and creative insults (some of them make me think that they were exchanged in jest and the people actually liked and respected each other).

    And yes, I'll play! One of my favorite insult quotes has been this for a long time:

    "The advantage of intelligence is that you easily can play dumb. The opposite is a bit more difficult." (Kurt Tucholsky - and probably horribly translated...it sounds a lot "zingier" in German, but I couldn't find it anywhere online in English, danggit!)

    Love love love that expression "stairway wit" that Geo mentioned. That's like my super power.

    Have a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I agree. Most of those insults only work BECAUSE they're made in jest.

      LOVE your insult. It's very clever, and I think it translated just beautifully.

      You have a super weekend, too.

      Delete
  20. I feel guilty already for thinking of something hurtful. I need to apologize. I am a nice person and would never, never insult a person, except, of course, Trump.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, no need to apologize. You weren't directing an insult AT anyone, so how could it be hurtful? It sounds like something a writer would say to describe a character in a book. Clever, but NOT hurtful.

      HA! Trump? Have at him!

      Delete
  21. From 'Mean Girls':

    Student: "Nice wig, Janis. What's it made of?"

    Janis: "Your mom's chest hair!" ”

    Immature I know, but it appeals to the 13 year old in me. If I could write insults like the ones you listed, I'd be a very successful writer indeed...of course I'd have no friends, but I'd be a very successful writer. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HA! Good one. And who says humor has to be mature? Some of the funniest stuff around is the stuff that makes us FEEL immature again. Getting in touch with our inner child and laughing at childish things keep us young. On the inside. On the outside, not so much, dammit.

      Delete
  22. "I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." Stephen Bishop
    That's one of my favorites from your list - fits perfect to family dynamics.
    I've been hit with a few good ones."I decided to stay, she had too much baggage, and I've already dealt with yours," is a good start.
    Yeah words can kill, literally.
    Loved this post, made me smile despite myself!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, that is a good one.

      Ouch! The insult example you gave is kinda... insulting. And not in a nice way. If someone said that to you, I hope you called him a big ol' poopy-head, because he deserved it.

      Delete
  23. I'll tease a friend, but I try to avoid insults even if they're clever. I decided quite some time ago that teasing is okay if it brings to light something good about the person.

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, you're a sweetie. And I do understand where you're coming from. (Florida, isn't it...?) :)

      Delete
  24. I had to look this one up, but I remember it because it always made my mother laugh.

    Though we adore men individually, we agree that, as a group they’re rather stupid. (Mrs. Banks, Mary Poppins)

    VR Barkowski

    ReplyDelete
  25. Great list of insults. I've never been quick-witted enough to think of funny insults or snappy comebacks. I think of those several days later. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Daisy. Yeah, it'd be a lot easier for all of us to come up with perfectly snappy comebacks if we had personal writers to supply us with our lines, wouldn't it? :)

      Delete
  26. Darn, I'm not good with these... maybe because I was on the other end of those taunts. The funny thing is that years later I see some of those kids all grown up and I ended up in a better place.

    I totally agree that the politicians say such childish things to and about each other, they really need to grow up and find solutions to the problems... Really good post Susan... good luck to the commentors who come up with something witty xox ♡

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can see where being the butt of mean-spirited insults might give someone a different outlook on them. I'm sorry you had to put up with that, but maybe it helped make you extra sweet and sensitive to other people's feelings.

      Delete
  27. If politicians do insult each other creatively like Churchill, I think I 'll be watching tv and will be reading more news about them, at least I could have fun.

    Oh these collection of creative insults just made my day. What a good thing to read on a relaxing Sunday. Those classy ones bring tickles to the brain but the not so classy just made me burst say whaaaatttt and burst into laughter. Love them all! They're insanely good :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! The least those politicians could do is entertain us!

      Thanks. I'm glad you got a chuckle or two out of this post. :)

      Delete
  28. You've always got the funniest stuff, Susan!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Cathy! I feel the same way about YOUR stuff.

      Delete
  29. Just by walking into a room you increase the entropy.

    The lavatory is on the right. You do plan to wash you hands, don't you?

    Your odor precedes you.

    You are as funny as a fart in an elevator. No. You are the fart in the elevator.

    This is all I can do at the moment. I ran out of booze.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, no! Ran out of booze? Unacceptable, Bob, unacceptable.

      Good ones. Now, I admit, I'm one of those people with such a well-developed and sophisticated sense of humor, I DO think a fart in an elevator is funny... but I don't wanta BE one!

      Delete
  30. Those insults are so good. I especially like "I'll waste no time reading it." When planned, I don't do insults well at all. But I just caused a fury on facebook by inadvertently insulting someone. So I came back to blogland, where I'm safer with my friends. Still, I can't insult you, Susan. Only one very immature insult from my childhood is coming back to me. I wish I'd said it on many a date: "Is that your head or is a warthog sitting on your shoulders?" That's it. That's all I got - not directed at you, of course.

    Thanks for visiting. I need to come here much more often for a fix of laughter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The way I see it, if you "inadvertently" insulted someone, the problem doesn't lie with you. It just means someone else's skin is too thin.

      But, yes! By all means, spend more time in blogland. It's always great to hear from you.

      The warthog one reminds me of one I heard... but never said... when I was a teenager. It was along the lines of, "Uh-oh, you have a pimple on your shoulder!" followed up with, "Oh, no, sorry. That's your head."

      Delete
  31. Princess Leia is one of my favorite insulters
    "Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder. "
    and "Would someone get this walking carpet out of my way!"

    fantastic post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HA! Yeah, they're both good ones. I like insults that make me laugh.

      Thanks! I'm glad you liked it.

      Delete