The great forgotten, underrated humorist Frank Sullivan created a character named Mr. Arbuthnot, a “cliche expert” who reappeared many times over Sullivan’s long career, usually in The New Yorker. Sullivan has been dead since 1976, but I ran into his alter ego recently, who is still alive and well and bursting with dog-eared vogue lingo.
NACHMAN: What a nice surprise to see you after so many years, Mr. Arbuthnot!
MR. A: It’s been a while, but I’ve got quite a lot on my plate, cliche-wise.
NACHMAN: In other words, everything is on the table.
MR. A: Yep, and nothing is under the radar. You might say I hit the ground running.
NACHMAN: I could but you said it first. Be careful, it’s a slippery slope. Whassup?
MR. A: I hardly know where to start, but I need to think outside the box.
NACHMAN: Which would put you on the cutting edge, or maybe even ahead of the curve.
MR. A: Spot on! Having said that…
NACHMAN: I guess you’ve noticed that these are not your father’s cliches.
MR. A: Hardly. I’d call this the 2.0 version.
NACHMAN: But do you think it sends the right message?
MR. A: To play it safe, you better also send a signal.
NACHMAN: In other words, a wake-up call.
MR. A: I presume any cliches you come up with are all sustainable.
NACHMAN: You got it. We’re going green.
MR. A: Well, just so it’s not toxic, like all those sub-prime loans.
NACHMAN: And of course I assume you’ll also demand transparency.
MR. A: You know what they say: It takes a village.
NACHMAN: I do indeed know, and don’t forget: if you build it, they will come.
MR. A: You the Man! Having said that…
NACHMAN: Whatever you do, be sure nobody throws you under the bus.
MR. A: I’d rather not go there.
NACHMAN: I hear you. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
MR. A: What is?
NACHMAN: Everything. It’s a perfect storm.
MR. A: You could almost say we’re at the tipping point.
NACHMAN: But most people just don’t get it.
MR. A: I definitely get it. There’s a lot of buzz.
NACHMAN: You’re focusing like a laser on these trendy new phrases.
MR. A: I try, even though I’m having trouble with my vision.
NACHMAN: No problem! Don’t worry–you’re just differently abled.
MR. A: Yes, you could say I’ve got issues.
NACHMAN: You mean as opposed to problems?
MR. A: At the end of the day, yes. Many of the solutions are truly draconian.
NACHMAN: Having said that, what do you think of Barack Obama?
MR. A: He’s the new Kennedy, FDR and Lincoln. I love his team of rivals.
NACHMAN: Well, I gotta split [fist bump], but it’s been a blast from the past.
MR. A: Have we run out of contemporary cliches? Yes. Will I be leaving now? Yes. Will I ever stop asking myself questions and then answering them? No.
NACHMAN:You got that right.
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