I want to thank those Optic readers who contacted me about my last article (“Saving things for just in case”) and shared their own saving oddities with me.
Comedian Ellen DeGeneres likes to poke fun at common day occurrences such as the difficulty in opening a well packaged new CD, or wrestling with a toilet paper dispenser while sitting in a commode at a public bathroom. This article is sorta like what Ellen does, but the focus is on the tendency we human beings have toward trying to outdo each other in almost everything.
Nothing against fish stories, but fishermen are famous for outdoing each other when it comes to boasting about the big one that got away. Outdoing each other doesn’t seem to have any age limit, we all do it.
Recently I told a friend of mine that I had visited an old country cemetery and found it in deplorable condition with head stones knocked down and weeds covering the whole place. She then said, “That’s nothing. You ought to see the two cemeteries we visited this summer.” Notice that the phrase “that’s nothing” just brings a story to a sudden halt. That ended my excitement and her story became the topic of our conversation.
Two women talking about their childbirth experience. The first one says, “When I had my little Johnny, I was in labor for almost 18 hours.” The other explains, “That’s nothing, I was in labor with Timothy for 24 hours.”
Then there’s the guy who tells his friend, “I just got a great deal on a motorcycle I’ve wanted for so long.” His friend says, “That’s nothing. I bought a preowned BMW with only 50,000 miles on it.”
Grandparents are not outdone in this game. One grandma tells her friend that she now has 10 grandchildren, her friend replies, “That’s nothing, my great-granddaughter is having her second child.” That ended that story.
Grandpa does pretty well too, he tells his neighbor, “Last summer we took our grandkids to Disney World in Florida.” His neighbor one ups him when he says, “That’s nothing. My wife and I took our oldest grandson to see a World Series game as his graduation present.”
By now, this article sounds like the Jones and Smiths outdoing each other, or for that matter, the Garcias and Martinezes. Right about this time with the aroma of green chile roasting in Las Vegas, one woman tells another, “I roasted and froze a sack of green chile last evening before going to bed.” Coming back quickly, the other says, “That’s nothing. Last weekend I roasted, peeled and froze three sacks all by myself.” So much for that hot story.
It seems like teenagers don’t need to make any kind of comment to outdo each other. They simply show up with the latest and coolest gadget and that takes care of that without saying a word. Wearing the latest fashion in clothing for this group also speaks volumes and so do the parents who have to pay for it.
Children don’t use the phrase “that’s nothing.” Instead they seem to place emphasis on size and use the word “Big!” So we hear things like, “My dad is bigger than your dad and can beat him up.” Or, “My dad’s truck is bigger then your dad’s.” They also value the word “newer,” such as my bike is “newer then yours.”
Surgical scars are a common badge of honor to compare. You may often hear someone say “When I had my surgery I landed up with a four-inch scar. The other person says, “That’s nothing. You ought to see mine,” and may proceed to show it off.
I saved the best example for last, and here a woman said, “While in the hospital, I was so sick that I almost died.”
Now, you know as well as I, that in order to top this comment, one would actually have to die. A near-death experience may come close to topping it, but I don’t think it counts if you didn’t complete the process.
Kim Delgado is a Las Vegas native. She may be reached at email@example.com or 425-9677.