Pushing the Envelope

Welcome to Cliche Thursday, where each week we deconstruct 5 expressions that we’ve all become a little too familiar with and ask you for some of your own least favorites.

Here we go…

“give it the old college try” – Not sure what college you went to, but at my school ‘trying’ meant getting out of bed for classes more often than not. I can’t think of a group of people who tried LESS than college students, unless you’re talking about procrastinating homework, in which case, yes, they did put forth a great effort.

Maybe we should say, “give it the old I’m in second grade and I still care about my grades try”?

“cute as a button” – If I asked you to describe a button and gave you a list of every adjective in the world, how long would it take for you to describe the button as “cute”? 6 hours? 48 hours?

Shouldn’t this be considered one of the meanest insults you can give someone?

‘Oh look at that baby! He’s as cute as a small plastic disc with 4 holes!’

“when it rains, it pours” – I refuse to agree with such a statement and in doing so spit upon the good names of misting and drizzling.

Also a fun exercise: use this expression but change it up a bit…

  • when it snows, it blizzards
  • when it naps, it hibernates
  • when it drinks, it guzzles
  • when it cries, it weeps
  • when it craps, it explosive diarrheas

“This probably goes without saying, but…” – but I’m going to say it anyway because I think you’re a moron who needs to be reminded of things that other people don’t need to be reminded of.

“push the envelope” – What possible origin could this expression have? What does pushing an envelope have to do with taking risks and living on the edge? I racked my brain for 15 minutes trying to come with a ridiculous story to support this expression, and this is the best I could do:

The origin of the expression “push the envelope” traces back to eclectic business owner John Stanbuck and his unusual method of paying out his employee bonuses. Stanbuck would place an empty envelope on his desk and ask all of employees to take turns pushing it as close to the edge of the desk as they could without it falling off. Any employee who pushed the envelope too far (and off the desk) would only receive half of their allotted bonus. The employee who pushed the envelope the furthest without it falling off would receive double their allotted bonus, plus all of the forfeited monies of those who failed the challenge. Stanbuck would often invite his wealthy friends into his office to observe the exercise, and many of them would comment, ‘that chap is really pushing the envelope’.

Like I said, ridiculous. Not to mention that of all the things I’ve done to an envelope in my life, I don’t think “pushing” makes the list. I’ve ripped an envelope, tossed an envelope, licked an envelope, burnt an envelope, filed an envelope, kissed an envelope (don’t ask, it was a dark period in my life), sealed an envelope, and farted in an envelope. But can’t say I’ve ever pushed one.

What About You: Any expressions chapping your hide lately?

Add them to the list so we can skewer them in the coming weeks.