I’m guessing it was in December of 1973 that I covered a Christmas parade for The Asbury Park Press. As one of the newest reporters in the city newsroom, I pulled the lamest assignments, and on this day it was Belmar’s annual holiday procession. Having attended the Philadelphia New Year's Day Mummers Parade every year as a child, often in well-below-freezing temperatures, I truly hated parades. But I soldiered on and did my journalistic duty on this miserable, rainy day at the Jersey Shore. The story that ran in The Press the following day, however, assured our readers that the wet and cold weather didn’t “dampen the spirits” of either the spectators or the marchers. I thought I was being so creative by using that phrase, and maybe 33 years ago I was, but I doubt it. I suspect that even by 1973, that expression was already hackneyed.
So how come, over the past 33 years, this worn-out phrase has been used so often on the air and in print? I just heard it again on The Weather Channel, my default station when I need to feed my inner nerd. Am I to blame? Did I unwittingly resurrect a dying expression all those years ago? Maybe if I—and the 4,372 other reporters who assured the public that no spirits were dampened by foul weather that year—had hesitated a minute longer before filing our stories, the expression would have died a natural death in 1973, and we wouldn’t have been subjected to it for lo! these many years. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
This drives me nuts, and I really don’t need any more stimuli in that regard. What about you? What jaded phrases would you like to see expunged from the record?