Ever since I was a kid, I remember listening to adults say, “Oh, you know what they always say…” followed by some cliche phrase like, “the grass is always greener” or “be careful what you wish for.” At the time, I imagined a conference room somewhere with a group of people in business suits literally sitting down and creating these overused phrases for others to quote.
Years later, I began to realize that “they” are not actual people and just nobody in particular. Yet it’s obvious to assume that “they” had to start somewhere, right? I mean, someone must’ve thought of it, then said it and, of course, the cliche eventually spread. I wonder if one or some of the original “they” phrase people is old, alone and alive somewhere seething with wrath over how he’s not being cited. I know I would be. Maybe that’s why Paris Hilton wanted to copyright the phrase, “That’s hot!” Could you imagine 50 or so years from now people regularly saying, “You know what they always say, that’s hot!” Paris Hilton would be pissed.
Despite not being recognized by the whole of society, I want to start one of those “they” sayings anyways. I want to because someday, maybe I’ll be at a cocktail party or by an office water cooler somewhere when someone repeats my phrase. I’d immediately interject and say, “No ‘they’ never said that. I said it! That was ME!” I’m sure they’d look at me like I was crazy or something, but by that point I’m hoping I’d be famous or of a superior societal importance so I wouldn’t care, really.
Do you have a favorite “they” phrase?
Image courtesy of this random website I found on a google image search.