Failing to deliver

Hello all – today’s post is by my dear internet friend, Claire M. Jackson of Twitter fame. She is wonderful, kind-hearted, snarky and so freaking hilarious that she will make you fall out of your chair. If you don’t, she will stab you. In a kind-hearted Christian sort of way though, because she’s nice like that. Anyway…enjoy!

Hello, Mitchlings (this is my mental name for readers of Mitch’s blog – no, you can’t change it). Mitch has asked me to contribute a little something here, and after carefully reviewing the very important news of the day, I have decided to ignore all of it and write some of my usual nonsense. Enjoy!

Don’t Let Your Esprit Fall Down the Escalier:

Comebacks for Critical Life Moments


We’ve all been through it: there you are, minding your own business, when someone makes an extremely rude comment, delivers a “zinger” or, out of misguided goodwill or simple dumb-as-a-box-of-hair ignorance, makes a “suggestion” to “improve” your life/hairstyle/approach to multi-level-marketing. In all of these situations, many of us feel constrained by the boundaries of polite society and our own moral codes, and therefore instead of, say, setting the person ablaze and then gleefully capering around their burning, anguished form, we stammer or stutter out some banal response that will allow us to exit the situation and then, later, endlessly review what we should’ve done/said in the comfort of our homes. When moments like these arise, it’s of critical importance to have a ready response; otherwise, you’re riding coach on the Humiliation Express.

The French have a term for coming up with the perfect comeback after it’s too late (of course they do): l’esprit d’escalier, or “staircase wit” as it’s known to the Anglophone. Is there a feeling more exquisitely humiliating than this?

Well, I mean, other than discovering you’re on the hook for killing the ocean?

But I digress.

Here, then, are some suggested comebacks for the little awkward moments in life (please note: the solutions are listed in order of efficacy, with commensurate risk of resultant hostility/arrest/Ragnarok).

THE SITUATION: You arrive at yet another family gathering alone.

THE PROBLEM: Grandma wants to know when you’re gonna settle down and add to the family brood.

SOLUTION A: “Well, Grandma, I’ve been really busy with my schooling/Alpaca Farm/systematically dating every creep in town.”

SOLUTION B: “I just haven’t met the right one yet, Grandma, but when I do you can be sure I’ll keep them far, far away from all of you.”

SOLUTION C: [THUNK!] [CRASH!]  (Brain Grandma with a soup ladle and dive through the nearest window.)

THE SITUATION: You’re gay, lesbian, transgendered, queer, et hoc genus omne.

THE PROBLEM: Your friend/coworker/family member/random stranger on a bus says something hateful to you regarding your being the above.

SOLUTION A: “You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but that doesn’t give you the right to disrespect or insult me.”

SOLUTION B: Give them a long, assessing look and then say “Who hurt you? Do you want to hug it out?”

SOLUTION C: Whip out your sword, hold it aloft and cry “BY THE POWER OF GAYSKULL, I HAVE THE POWER…” Then transform into He-Man or She-Ra and whoop some ass.*

*Come on, you know they were both TOTALLY gay.


THE SITUATION: Something’s gone terribly wrong at work, and your boss is on the warpath.

THE PROBLEM: Your cowardly coworker, desperate to save their own skin, tries to throw you under the bus.

SOULUTION A: “Let’s all just calm down and look at the situation rationally. I’m sure there’s a solution that will address everyone’s concerns.”

SOLUTION B: “Well, it wasn’t me, and I can tell you for sure that it wasn’t (Jerky Coworker’s name) either, because (s)he was out on another “long lunch” when things went bad.” (follow this with a brief pantomime of “tossing a few back” and then stumbling around)

SOLUTION C: “I understand this situation is potentially cataclysmic, but I’m much more worried about THESE!” (whip out previously-created Photoshop images of Jerky Coworker engaged in illegal relations with 2 wombats and Ann Coulter).

THE SITUATION: The debate in which you are engaged appears to be going poorly.

THE PROBLEM: Your opponent either knows more about the topic currently under discussion, or has sandbagged you with specious arguments.

SOLUTION A: “If we can just take a moment and return to the main argument, I’d like to address that point in the proper context.”

SOLUTION B: Play it for laughs. “I believe Alexis De Tocqueville said it best when he said “Dude, you’re a wingnut.”

SOLUTION C: “That may very well be, but I’m afraid your Chittering Chipmunk style is no match for my Eagle Tigerclaw style! Taste my vengeance, knave!” (kick opponent’s ass with Kung Fu.*)

*Note: Requires that you know Kung Fu.

THE SITUATION: Your friend asks you to contribute something to their blog.

THE PROBLEM: You are always sort of unsure about writing for others, because their audience is not necessarily your own, and they may throw things at you.

SOLUTION A: “No problem, I’m sure I can whip something up if you narrowly define each and every criteria for the piece, good buddy, heh, heh, heh!”

SOLUTION B: “Oh, good, this will give me a chance to finally expose the great Triscuit-Wheat Thin wars that have torn Madison Avenue to shreds.”

SOLUTION C: Reach into the basement of your mind, and draw whatever squeaking, malformed thing your wandering fingers find into the light, hoping it will be a worthy sacrifice. Alternatively, brain your friend with a ladle and flee to Canada, adopting a new name, life and ethnicity so completely that only your journal will ever know the secret anguish that is your nightly torment.

And there you have it. No more must you be troubled by the shame and regret that is l’esprit d’escalier! Life is truly better when you are the undisputed master of the spoken realm!

Until next time, this is Claire Jackson, saying…


…no, just give me a minute…

Well, crap.