Curses

“May you live in interesting times”. It seems innocuous enough, but personal experience has proven to me that the Chinese have this curse business pretty much sewn up.

It all hinges around that sneaky, multi-faceted word, ‘interesting’. People don’t usually think much further than the standard meaning – i.e. ‘worthy of interest’, but if you dig a little deeper into its actual usage, you’ll find that there’s more than immediately meets the eye. After all, how often do people use it to indicate non-committal (but generally unhappy) acknowledgement of surprising news? For example:

“Dad, I’m phoning from the police station. I’ve been arrested”
“Interesting”

or

“I’m pregnant”
“Interesting”
“It’s not yours”
Very interesting”

and of course, there’s the common scenario where the word acts as a euphemism for ‘horrible’:

“What do you think of my new recipe?”
“Mmm. Interesting”

When I returned to work after being on leave for a few days, people asked me how my holiday was. It was interesting.

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20 thoughts on “Curses

  1. Welcome back! You’ve given us an inkling of what ‘interesting’ meant in your case but you’ll have to tell us more when/if you get the urge.

    ‘Lovely’ is also used in a similar fashion.

    ‘Mom, I’ve just bought the new Eminem album.’

    ‘That’s lovely, darling.’

    ‘Honey, what do you think of my new dress?’

    ‘It’s lovely,’ says hubby turning on the television.

    It’s not quite as versatile as ‘interesting’ but it seems to mean a lot more than the dictionary definition of the word.

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  2. May you live in happy times then.

    Also, I meant to thank you for thinking I was snarky. Didn’t pan out, but it felt good to be understood. 😉

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  3. I’m glad you’re back. Really missed having you here.

    Your “Please Stand By” post touched a nerve on this end and all I wanted to do was send you a hug.

    I totally get the “interesting” thing too. I use that word a lot when I don’t want to get into detail on a subject.

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  4. nomad: We are creatures of subtext.

    anne: Happy is good. No hidden meaning there.

    banquo: Thanks. Hope your week becomes happy.

    anduin: You are very kind 🙂

    phoenix: LOL. I was waiting for that.

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  5. My mom has a ‘lovely’ word: Different! usually accompanied by a pasted on, false grin. She used it a LOT while I was a teenager and going through various phases including Goth, hippy, rasta etc. Example:

    Me: Mom, how do I look?

    Mom: Uhm, different dear…

    Glad to have you back!

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  6. KN: you’re forgetting “nice” – a word that’s been saving my bum for some time now.

    Colleague: “what do you think of this design?”
    Me: “oh, erm… it’s nice”

    FF: “What about this dress”
    Me: “yeah – that’s nice”

    MF: “This is my new car”
    Me: “mmm…nice”

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  7. The question I’m asking myself is, “How do I comment and yet not skip over your pain?” You are going through something I’ve never experienced and hope I never do. I don’t mean to dwell on it, and yet at the same time I wish you peace.
    Your holiday was interesting but very real…I feel for you and offer my internet shoulder even though I hardly know you. Always look North.

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  8. Welcome back. Had wanted to post on your Please stand by post but there was no comment thingy-majiggy (I am such a technologically advanced human being I have no friggin’ idea what half the stuff is!! – Quite sad really).
    All I can think to say is – Vasbyt, pain means you still have feelings even if its not the ones you want right now.

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  9. Glad you’re back. (Glad is OK, right?) I often use the word interesting, although I mean I’m interested. (I think you will have me hesitating each time I sue it now) 😉

    3T
    PS. You had me *giggling* over the “It’s not yours.” bad, very bad! (Sorry)

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  10. chitty: And to you too. Strange is interesting, though.

    Bee: Ja, I’ve come across that one, too. Still, I suppose it’s a notch better than ‘indifferent’.

    Caroline: Et tu, Caro?

    Cyli: We started off communicating with meaninless grunts. It looks like not much has changed 🙂

    Lee: Thanks. Here’s to a dull New Year!

    tripeak: LOL. The folks who made the Fiat Palio advert know exactly what you mean.

    Zube Girl: Awww, you’re too kind.

    Brian: Good advice 🙂

    Tammy: I turn the comments off when I’m too self-absorbed to do others the courtesy of responding. I’ll be shopping for gum-guards very shortly.

    3T: I also used to use it a lot. I’ve had to start saying things like, “Interesting. Tell me more”, if I want people to understand that I actually am interested.

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  11. Sometimes it’s better to leave things up to others’ imaginations and interpretations. They come to their own conclusions even with full disclosure so why not?

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  12. are you by some slim chance a pterry reader? if you aren’t- then maybe you should be! just curious- every now and then i see something that makes me think of one of his books…
    interesting…

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  13. livewire: I agree that everyone has an interpretation, but the jury’s still out on the imagination side of things.

    angel: I’m a big fan, so I am enormously flattered by your comment. Great, now I’m stuck in my office until my head reverts to normal size.

    Like

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