The Old Coot knows what is

We have a wooden plaque in our kitchen that says, “IT IS WHAT IT IS!” My wife uttered her favorite statement so often I bought her the plaque for Christmas last year. 

It sounds like something a cheapskate like me would give as a present, but it did pass the Wife-Gift-Giving -Rules. It didn’t have a handle (pots, pans and the like), it didn’t plug into an electrical outlet (Vacuum cleaner, crock pot, etc.) and it couldn’t be worn (ugly sweater, wrong size coat, etc.). It did violate one of her rules; it didn’t sparkle or come in a jewelry box, but what can she expect when she’s married to an old coot? 

I’m cheap but not stupid; I paired it with a massage gift certificate, some dinning out coupons and the like. I got away with it, but I heard her mumble under her breath, “It is what it is!”

Whatever! It is what it is, is a phrase that went viral a few years ago. It always fascinates me, the phenomena of a new adage spreading across the country, becoming the go-to saying, going to the front of the line of a long row of predecessors. 

It did just that, knocked out: That’s Life – Whatcha gunna do? – That’s the way it is! And there are many similar statements that we use, or did use, to help move beyond an unpleasant event, outcome, or quirk of fate. Some of the adages we say to ourselves – others, we state to the “victim,” to console them, or, sometimes to rub it in, or, to just get them to shut up and stop bellyaching. 

My mother, 70 some years ago, had her pet saying; she used it on my sister and I all the time, “You made your bed, now lie in it!” In other words, “You caused your own problem, now shut up and go do your homework or something!” 

Back in the dark ages, the 50’s and 60’s, the one you heard a lot among the “cool” crowd, was, “That’s the way the cookie crumbles.” You also heard some unsympathetic alternatives like, “It could have been worse.” The rest of the thought, that was often implied but rarely spoken was, “Yea, it could have been worse; it could have been me.” 

How about, “Life sucks and then you die,” as a comforting comment. Not much comfort there. So, what’s my point? Simply, that we humans employ a litany of things to say or think when life tosses us a curve ball. Moving on is what we do. “Making lemonade out of lemons,” I guess.

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