Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's All Downhill From Here

Pat, you appear to know what you’re talking about some of the time. I was hoping you could answer something for me. For the past few years, for some unknown reason, I have become very consciously aware anytime I use the phrase “It’s all downhill from here”.  Meaning anytime I use that phrase I immediately think to myself “Oh hey I’m using that phrase again.”

This over awareness has caused me to constantly second guess my actual use of it. It’s gotten to the point where I’m getting concerned I’m not using it correctly. Which is what I’m hoping you can help me out with.

Now, if we were standing on top of a hill and I point down the hill and say “It’s all downhill from here” I understand that. Using the phrase metaphorically is what I’m stumbling with.

But before I get further into the specifics I was hoping you could first use it in a phrase yourself. Metaphorically that is. No stealing my standing on top of a hill example. The reason I want you to use it first is because I’m concerned that after I explain all the nuances of it, you too will become overwhelmed, confused, and will also start second guessing yourself. Therefore we need an untainted example that we can go back to as a reference in case you go off the deep end.

Ok go.

Pat:  No problem, buddy...I’ve got this one!

“It’s all downhill from here? Then where are we going, exactly? Because I assume that we’re going to get back to where we started, and if that’s the case, then I want to know EXACTLY how much downhill we’re going to have to endure, as the laws of physics dictate that there will be an equal amount of UPhill to get back to ground zero, and I’m not too keen on lots of uphill. So, if it’s not too much to ask and all, could you please tell me exactly how much goddamned downhill you’re talking about before I commit myself to going with you?!”

Is that what you were talking about? If so, then it’s all downhill from here.

Christian: Yes and no. Your long-winded quoted paragraph was completely wrong. However you made up for in that last sentence. In this example you used it to imply things will be easy from here on out. Which is correct. But can’t that exact phrase also mean things are going to be getting worse from here on out?

For example. Godfrey has an unsustainable gambling problem that he has kept from his family and work but he just got arrested for holding up a Toys R Us. It looks like it’s all downhill from here for Godfrey.

This is correct too, no?

Pat:  Yeah. But I think you’re both right. Or...you’re right both times.

See, Godfrey’s life is certainly going to go downhill after robbing the toy store. What with the courts, and the jail, and the inmates and all. Kinda’ sucks to be Godfrey.

But it will also be getting a bit easier, no? I mean, look at our criminal justice system. Will Godfrey have to work and pay taxes anymore? Will Godfrey have to buy food or cook for himself anymore? Will Godfrey have to bathe or exercise or mow the lawn or fix his car or watch his daughter grow up and go out with skeezy guys?

Life’s looking up for Godfrey I’d say!

Christian: But herein lies my problem. It has the two meanings and I have put so much over-thinking into this that I’m now having trouble using the phrase at all. Let me give you real life example from my historic past that I’m sure will cause you to always second guess yourself when using this phrase for rest of your life.

I was helping some friends move. Moving is naturally stressful but this particular move did not go well at all for the family. Once we were finally done I could tell that one of the move-ee’s was particularly bummed so I said to her, “Don’t worry it’s all downhill from here.”

Was this a good, reassuring thing to say at this moment, or was I a complete ass?

Pat:  Is it possible that you were both? A reassuring asshole? ‘Cause I think that’s probably how she’s thinking of you right now. You might want to ask.

I don’t know...this seems like a tough one.

Know what I do in situations like these? Make shit up. Really. ‘Cause I’ve learned that as long as you say things with confidence, and back it up with a snide and disapproving smirk and eye roll upon questioning, people will assume you know what you’re talking about and pretty much buy anything.

For example, one time I was riding on a train through Italy, it was late at night, I was tired from a day’s adventure, and my travel mates would not stop pestering me. So I puffed my sleepy self up, got all annoyed looking, and barked at them, “If you both don’t knock it off, I’m gonna’ content, man(s)!”

I don’t know what I was saying, but you know what? Those two travel mates sure backed down.  I have that pretty intimidating appeal sometimes.

So...yeah. Try making something up. Like, “Man, those prunes sure are the pitted variety!” You’ll be surprised.

Christian: Hold the telefono (Italian for phone) Pat. I just happen to know those travel mates of yours from Italy because I was one of them. And I seem to recall after you screamed, “I’m gonna’ content,” we did become silent but it was because we couldn’t figure out what you were saying.

Granted we were considering the fact that you did indeed say something that made sense and were going to let it slide but then we decided to call you on it and ask what the hell you were talking about. And as I’m sure you recall your response was “You know. I’m going to content from you guys bothering me. Like when they warn you on propane tanks, ‘contents under pressure’.”

Ha ha. You thought “contents” was a verb!

Pat:  Shut up. It works.

(goddammit...I hate when he does this...it makes me want to content all over again!)

I think, after that last comment, good sir, that our blog future is all downhill from here.

Figure THAT one out, you prune pitter!

Christian: I can’t. That’s the problem. I think the phrase “it is all downhill from here” will forever be one of the Universe’s greatest unsolved mysteries. Like gravity or why you have to double the amount of cooking time when microwaving two frozen burritos instead of just one.

31 comments:

  1. OK the whole burrito thing must have something to do with excited molecules right? Exciting!! So I guess there is uh more stuff in the microwave which has to be excited..you know like you need to tell a joke a bit louder to make more people laugh... it might also take a couple more jokes...and that is why you need to increase the time for 2 burritos.

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    1. Your science seems pretty dead on to me. Thanks for the explanation.

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  2. In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, "I do not think it means what you think it means." I've never heard of "it's all downhill from here" meaning "things are going to be getting worse from here on out." When things are getting worse, I thought the phrase "going south" was the operative term. Like going south to Florida is the worst thing imaginable. What the content, maybe I'm wrong?

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    1. But Inigo Montoya was consumed with vengeance. What does he know?

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  3. At least now you realize that the phrase confuses you. It has to be all downhill from here now, I reckon.

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    1. I agree. Smooth sailing downhill. No problems. Easy peasy. Slam dunk.

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  4. Once a blog starts using its precious space to consider the meaning of colloquialisms, well... it's all downhill from there.

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    1. Meaning we can now just coast with little effort because there will be nothing but great success for us from now on, right? I've decided to start interpreting the phrase how I see fit.

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  5. And that's exactly why I say, "It's all smooth sailing up ahead." Smooth sailing is level. There is no uphill, no downhill, thus, it is smoooooth. No one questions what the heck I mean.

    However, my 10-year-old does like to roll his eyes and say, "Mom is using another cliché!" as if I have just stolen the last Haagen Daz bar out of the freezer. Really, it's not as if the Cliché Police is going to jump out and arrest me (and Godfrey-- see, I really DID read your entire post).

    Maybe making up new stuff IS the way to go. I like the whole "Contents under pressure" thing. I think from now on, if I want to imply to someone that things are going to get easier, I will say,

    "Things will get easier."

    Either that, or, "Should we order pizza?" (Maybe that will be my new catchphrase--thanks, guys!!!)

    xxo
    MOV

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    1. That's funny. I have the catch phrase "Who wants to get some pizza?" anytime people are arguing or there is tension in the room. Or when I actually want some pizza which is most of the time.

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  6. Pat, I am super disappointed. I was really hoping you with your superior englishing skills would straighten this mess out. I think it means that everything's about get bad. Like real bad, like bathroom-emergency-after-Indian-food-and-you-don't-have-TP bad.

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  7. I can see your conundrum here. I, too, have struggled with many a word and/or phrase that supposedly have double meanings. However, after careful consideration, I believe I have come to a satisfactory conclusion: The English language is messed up. I mean, REALLY messed up, beyond repair. Things have pretty much gotten to the point where you just have to adjust your language use to the people that you are associating with in a given situation. Does that fix the problem? NO! Will it make things any less confusing? NO! But it's the way things are, so we just have to prepare ourselves for the worst by doing our part and hiding in a hole, allowing the impending apocalypse to fix things for us...Perhaps I've said too much here...

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    1. You have inspired me to accept the fact that I don't know what the phrase is supposed to mean and for some reason I also feel like I'm ready for some kind of battle. Very inspiring indeed.

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  8. Perhaps when you say "It's all downhill from here" you could make use of overt facial expressions, like an extreme smile if you mean it in a 'things are easy' way or a deep frown if you mean it in a 'crap, things are just gonna get worse, much, much worse"? Or, just blanketly say 'no offense' afterward?

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    1. I pretty much have to say 'no offense' after almost everything I say to other people so I'll just go with that.

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  9. If my grandpa has taught me anything, it's that he used to walk to school barefoot, in the snow, uphill both ways. Meaning that just as we can at any moment be in a perpetual downhill slide, we can also be forced to walk uphill everywhere we go.

    Basically, what grandpa was saying is life sucks no matter which direction you're going. And I don't think he's wrong.

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  10. I always figured "It's all downhill from here" meant things were going to get worse. I never stopped and thought that going downhill is easier than going uphill. I feel like my reality has been shattered. Now I'm looking back on all the times I've sounded like a depressive ninny. Ugh, the moments are washing over me, embarrassing wave after embarrassing wave.

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  11. Now I'm thinking too much about this. I love burittos, but I'm not happy that you have to wait so long to make two of them. How about buying a second microwave? That way, they're both done at the same exact time. Oh, but that's only technically if you put them in and start them at the same exact time, in which case you'd need to be ambidextrous (not that there's anything wrong with that) and press "start" at the exact same moment. Dang. You guys cause brain pain, but I have a good strategy, so I'm forever indebted.

    PS You're very silly. I always enjoy my visits to this twisted place.

    xoRobyn

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    1. At my work we have two microwaves in our break room. I've put a burrito in each one and hit start pretty much at the same time but one of the microwaves always finishes several seconds before the other. Granted they are different brands of microwave but I thought the measurement of a second was a standardized thing. Guess not.

      Although to be honest I was really hoping that it would open up some kind of time traveling tunnel that would let me go back to the 50's and hang out with Michael J Fox from the 80's.

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  12. I'm just super-impressed that you guys speak Italian. Forget all the downhill stuff, you guys are rocking it.

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  13. First of all, if you've helped someone move, you get to say pretty much anything you want. Second, I always thought it meant things got worse, but I really hate going up hill so I'm surprised I haven't had the same crisis you did.

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    1. In addition to getting to say whatever you want to someone you just helped move, I also believe you should be allowed to take one item of theirs, of your choosing. Nothing off limits. I typically don't tell them this but I'm pretty sure it's one of those unspoken rules.

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  14. That phrase is quite the paradoxical enigma floating in a quagmire. I'm all about context clues, usually because I'm too lazy to try to get my fat fingers to type anything into my phone to look it up, so I just fake it (whether I make it or not.) If someone is pedaling on a bike and says "It's all downhill from here!" I assume THAT is a good thing.
    If it's me? And I'm on, say a skateboard, and I say "It's all downhill from here" THAT is a bad thing, it means I'm probably going to faceplant soon.
    That's just me though. Interesting food for thought.

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    1. I think the lesson here is to never ride a bike or a skateboard.

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  15. This phrase has the same problem that "open the shower curtain" does. Does it mean you are opening it to get out of the shower, or opening it up (so it can dry and mold spores won't grow on it)? I have the same identity crisis when I say that phrase.

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    1. Oh dear god I never thought about "open the shower curtain"! Now I'm going to have to always say "Please expand the shower curtain" or "Please compress the show curtain". Actually, screw that, I'm tearing down our shower curtain as soon as I get home.

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