I do yoga. There, I said it. I do yoga.
I know. I know. You’re thinking I’m a Los Angeles cliche. You had high hopes for me and now you’re starting to wonder if I’m one of them, L.A. people who spend their time doing things like yoga and spinning. Guilty. But in defense, I’m vain, not healthy. So I’m not one of them at all.
I’ve practiced yoga for a lot of years. Clearly I haven’t done it to become a nicer person though it does have that effect, even on me. I started many years ago, hoping to magically get yoga arms. But I quickly learned that the real magic of yoga is that it chills you the fuck out. And since I have a very busy brain filled with very busy thoughts, turning it off feels like a vacation for me. Plus, there are those dreamy yoga arms.
So I do it. Religiously, I might add. And yes, it does make me a nicer person. It’s like nature’s Xanax. And it’s cheaper than therapy. Just ask Justin. He could be taking his last breath and he’ll say, “Just go the fuck to yoga and get off my back.” So I’m not just a trendy LA person. I’m a trendy LA person with way too much shit in my brain.
That’s a long buildup to simply say, this morning I was at yoga searching for my own legs in bow pose, which has one lying on his or her stomach-legs in the air and arms reaching for them.
“Now,” my teacher says. “Take your right hand to your to your left leg and your left hand to your right leg. Cross your hands, but not your feet.”
I cross my feet, but not my hands.
My teacher, a 50-year-old Long-Island transplant who survived the 70’s and the accompanying substances, is notoriously blunt. Even if his words are polite, his tone can bring one to tears in one fail Om. He once saw me parking my car and commented on how badly I parked that I cried internally for three whole days.
As I lie on the ground like a cockroach that can’t roll over, my legs crossed instead of my arms, he walks by me and stops. He pauses, examines my bow pose for a while then keeps walking around the class helping others.
A few minutes later he subtly says, “That’s an interesting pose Meredith, but not what we’re doing.” Everyone in class chuckles and so do I. I re-cross my arms instead of my legs and try again. I still can’t do this version of a bow pose, so I just lay down for the duration of the pose and daydream about donuts.
About ten minutes after class, when I’m back in my car, driving East On Beverly Blvd. it hits me. Interesting is a painting or an article in the New Yorker. Crossing your legs instead of your hands while you smother your stomach into the ground without breathing for a few minutes, sucks. My teacher was actually saying that my bow pose sucks. But instead of saying sucks, he said interesting.
Ten minutes. It took me ten minutes whole to realize I’d been insulted. I’m so impressed.
By the time I’ve reached La Brea, I realize that my yoga teacher is really on to something. Being skillfully passive aggressive is an underrated skill. Because the truth is anyone can use the word sucks, a real genius says interesting.
So should you find yourself at a loss for the right words to say when something or someone sucks, here are 31 suggestions.
1: It’s not for me. This is a nice way of saying you don’t like something. Sure it can be innocuous as in, “Bacon, it’s not for me.” But most likely it’s nocuous as in, “Your singing, it’s not for me.”
2: Maybe let’s do something else. You can say pretty much anything as long as you start the sentence with maybe.
3: Not my cup of tea. Tea makes everything sound dignified and polite when what you’re really saying is quite the opposite.
4: We’re going to go a different way. Even if you hire someone’s conjoined twin instead of them you can take the sting of not getting hired away by saying, “We’re going to go a different way.” When translated it actually means: anyone but you.
5: It’s different. Different is good in progressive schools and in art school. Otherwise, referring to someone or something as different is never a compliment. Trust me. I’ve been told I’m different my entire life.
6: Good job! This is a perfect compliment when there is no compliment.
7: Great work. When it’s hard to come up with anything kind to say, you can always compliment someone’s process by saying, “Good work.”
8: You really tried hard. When your kid comes in last or your spouse gets fired and you’re at a loss for kind words, compliment their effort since that’s clearly all they’ve got.
9: You look like you’ve lost weight. The best way to tell someone they actually needed to lose weight.
10: You changed your hair. When someone gets bangs or dies their hair pink, this is an ideal insult.
11: You look tired. Tired is terrible and everyone knows it.
12: Let’s try something new. A polite way to tell someone you’re bored of them, their suggestions, they’re cooking, or anything about them.
13: What exactly were you trying to do? A great way to tell someone you have no idea what they’re doing or why!
14: Neat. Neat is great for describing children’s rooms or how you like your Scotch. Otherwise, it’s an insult in disguise.
15: Hmm. When there’s nothing nice to say, say hmm!
16: I’m confused. Nicer than saying, “What the fuck are you talking about?” or “You moron!”, “I’m confused” let’s people know you think they’re stupid without you having to say so.
17: Your kids are so energetic. Never insult a kid because kids are off limits, but do let their parents know they are raising future criminals.
18: I respect your opinion. No you don’t.
19: ___ is not her gift. “Singing is not her gift” said about a singer or “Cooking is not her gift” said about a chef is the ultimate diss. Trust me, I do it all the time.
20: I totally understand. No. No you don’t.
21: Huh…Used as a full sentence, “Huh” is a very effective way of saying, “What the fuck are you doing?”
22: You look great for your age. This is a polite way of telling someone they are old. Because they do look great, but only compared to people who are nearly dead. No one tells a 20-year-old she looks great for her age.
23: Let’s play the quiet game! You’re technically not supposed to tell your kids to shut up, but sometimes it’s necessary. This does the job without the neighbors calling Social Services.
24: Let me think about that. A great way to delay saying, “No.” My kids still think I’m thinking about whether or not they can have desert last Tuesday.
25: I’ve never really thought of it like that. A great way to tell someone their argument is bogus.
26: You look like that character actress. Supermodel=good! Character actress= insult!
27: I’ve been meaning to call you. But you never did, so why bring it up?
28: I could never pull off that look. A lovely way to say someone dresses like shit.
29: I’ve always admired that you don’t care what other people think of you. A good way of letting your friend who has taken to dressing like a hobo that maybe it’s time to care what other people think.
30: I always assumed you didn’t want to get married. Said by married friends to single friends to add salt to their already single wounds. Snap!
31: Interesting. Just so you know, interesting means sucks. Even in yoga.
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