Have you ever used a brainy word just to confuse people? That is to say, have you ever tickled their brain?
I think brain-tickling should be a recurring thing, an everyday goal, if you will. So I’m here to tell you how to do it. Take a look, absorb it, love it, and do it. Do it for my happiness, do it for yours, and by god, do it for theirs.
Anyway, tickling a person’s brain. What am I talking about, you ask? I’m talking about throwing a word into a conversation to create a moment that just borders on non sequitur. For instance, the phrase non sequitur. Many people don’t encounter that very often, if at all (unless they are a philosopher, lawyer, English major, or one of the noble readers of the comic strip, in which case, I salute you), so using it in a casual conversation will likely confuse your fellow human and at the very least, pique their interest in learning what it means.
Specifically, using this as a response when someone changes the subject abruptly will not only mark that person as rude, but will likely change the subject back to you. The real goal of any good conversation, obviously.
Still don’t get it? That’s fine. I narrated this whole thing in my head on the way home tonight because my radio is broken, so I can give you an example:
You and a friend are walking on the street when you start talking to your friend about this strange noise your car started making yesterday that sounds like a mash-up of STOMP and an angel’s voice singing on high. Your friend then says, “Puppies are so cute, aren’t they?”
After giving your friend a rude/outraged/dumbfounded look, you then say casually, “Non sequitur, man. Non sequitur.”
Now, a few things could happen here.
- Your friend looks back at you slack-jawed (which is expected if they are indeed slack-jawed, poor fellow)
- Your friend ignores you and continues on their own non sequitur path, thus solidifying your sneaking suspicion that your friend is a selfish jerk.
- Your friend is an intellectual like me and responds in kind with a “Touché, sir. Puppies had nothing to do with angelic car sounds. Isn’t Danae the new Calvin?” (That last bit totally makes sense, but only to the Non-Sequitur comic strip fans. I’m pushing for it hard, people.)
All of these responses are good in one way or another. If 1 happens, then you get to enlighten your friend with the meaning and they learn something. You continue your walk, your chin raised a little higher as you’ve assumed the role of mentor, sage, and guru. If 2 happens, you’ve confirmed your suspicions and now have a better sense of this person’s intentions. You continue your walk alone, wiser and stronger for it. If 3 happens, you realize your friend is awesome and worthy of your friendship. You continue your walk in tandem, speaking only in non sequitor pedantry.
Now let’s take the title of this post: Metaphorically, yes. I love this! Why? Because there are so many uses to it that make no sense and complete sense all at the same time. It is just obscure, tangential, and abstract enough to confuse some people completely (as it should) and propel others into finding some minute way your answer makes sense (an equally enjoyable thing!).
“Hi Sally! I heard you were sick. Are you feeling okay?”
“Well… okay. Does that mean you’re feeling mediocre, neither great nor terrible? Or that all is at it should be, therefore you should feel okay, but you still feel sick?”
“Right. See ya.”
“What’s the weather like? Is the sky blue?”
“Uh… ok. What does that mean?”
“It means, John, that I am happy. For the first time in my life, I can smile with no worries. Do you know what that’s like, John? Do you? I’m free, John, I’m FREEEEE!”
“Geez, I just wanted to know if I should bring a jacket.”
The opportunities are endless. So go you into the world, take a dictionary, and tickle some brains.