Posted by: JDM..... | February 1, 2013

It’s a terrible word…….


I’m tired of all of the talk about guns and killing. The more the media focus on it, the more it seems to occur. Is it because, although it has always happened, we just hear about it more quickly and in more detail now? Is it happening more because fifteen minutes of fame is better than no fame at all to some?

So, I’m going to mention a phenomenon that is annoying as hell, though not to a level that might motivate one to clean another’s clock, at least not within the scope of my own pathologies. But, I digress.

Or not. Actually, the word “but” is the topic. It’s a terrible word, somewhere between “ain’t” and “#$!%” on the annoyance scale.

I mean, the word itself, like a gun, is perfectly harmless. Profanities and insults don’t just meander about the ether looking for some schmuck to pounce on. They have to be wielded with intent, or used carelessly. I’ll explain.

Think about the times when you can recall having used the word “but”, or have had it placed in your path like fresh dog shit hidden under a leaf.

“But” supposedly indicates exception. Properly used, it can lend interest and rhythm to a comment, provide a sense of poetry, or shape to lyrical writing. “None but the lonely…. ”, for example, as in the old Sinatra piece. More often than not, however, “but” is used as “butt”, as in “butt in line”. It is used as a foot jammed in the doorway by one who intends to enter whether invited or not.

  • “I don’t mean to interrupt, but…..”

  • “I hear what you’re saying, but….”

  • “I understand that, but…”

  • “I don’t mean to be nosey, but…”

  • “I don’t mean to be rude, but…”

It isn’t meant to erase everything said before it, actually. The true intent is quite obvious. Those who preface generally objectionable behaviors by assuming they will be absolved of responsibility by denying intent know exactly what they are doing.

It doesn’t work. Even the numbest thumb knows when it is being whacked, and the rest are normally just too polite to confront such trespass thinly disguised as politeness. I mean, who would have the audacity to say something like:

“I’d like to thank you in advance for the expensive present you will be giving me next week….”

I suppose there is no boundary to limit how far it could go.

I have a response or three for the infernal “but” bribe when it is offered in exchange for my tolerance of abuse. Some are admittedly as bad as the original offense itself. Which one I opt for depends on my mood. The key, for me, is to recognize it for what it is, and to intervene quickly, because those who use such language are “bargers” who don’t tend to wait for the permissions or advance forgiveness they demand.

If the putz in question has a track record with me and I know what’s coming, I’m highly likely to say something like the following:

Putz:     I don’t mean to interrupt, but…”

Me:     “Then don’t…”


Putz: “I don’t mean to be rude, but…”

Me: “Then don’t…”

Putz: “I hear what you’re saying, but…”

Me:    “Apparently not, so how can I clarify it for you?”

There is always a way to deflect an encounter with the intrusive and bullying “but” word. The important things to remember are:

  • Pay heed to your “gut” reaction.

  • “But” usually indicates a testing of the waters, so to speak, your reaction being the measure of how much the user can expect you to tolerate.

  • Don’t try to beat the person at his own game. Just be firm and direct about stopping the process before it builds any momentum.

I don’t mean to run, but…….


~-~* * *~-~



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