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January 29th, 2012

Two more, while I'm thinking of it:

"That's not what we do": your behavior is so shocking and so far over the top that I have crossed the line into direct censure. You should now slink away in shame. My dog, for example, whines or grumbles under her breath if I say, "Ista! Is that what we do?" Because the implication that it is not is bad enough.

A masterclass in "that's different": it can be used not only to censure your actions but simultaneously to mock ourselves for being too Minnesotan for words. Let us say, for example, that two Southern women have encountered each other in the baggage claim of the Minneapolis airport after being parted for somewhere between a day and ten years. They make the horrendous shrieking noises characteristic of such an encounter. I might well quirk the corner of my mouth at a Minnesotan companion and say, "Well, that's different!"

Am I actually censuring these people's behavior? Yes; shrieking in the airport is not what we do. But I am also acknowledging that my own cultural standards are a) not universal and b) kinda ridiculous.

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