Surely everyone is familiar with the
black-rubber-hose-looking things that lie across highways to count traffic.
Departments of transportation use these tally mechanisms to gauge how much
a road or bridge or something is used and whether a given volume of traffic
justifies replacement or repair of the infrastructure. We need something
like this in language.
Audio-monitoring devices of some sort could measure the volume of speech in a locale. Then, when someone registers the 1 millionth use of "been there, done that," the Department of Flatulence could issue a warning, an overuse announcement. Although bureaucratic protocol would probably demand some better term than overuse. Something like threshold of over-extended deployment might work.
Following such a decree, here's how things would go. If someone were to accidentally say "been there, done that," friends, co-workers, and family members would widen their eyes, step back, and swing their arms to fan the air, saying "Oh, man! Whewww!" In more refined company you might register some involuntary facial tic and pretend that nothing had happened, but the lapse would be duly noted. We wouldn't hear "been there, done that" much longer--it's a sure thing.
We get these clichés regularly that stay with us like in-laws after Thanksgiving. They die a natural death--the clichés--but sometimes far too slowly. (About the time Nixon stepped onto that helicopter, people stopped saying "Here come da judge" and "sock it to me.")
In a time when there are only 67 of us left who don't wear beepers, it shouldn't be hard to develop a cliché meter. And the Flatulence Department could be a small offshoot of Health, Education, and Welfare.
But then, come to think of it, this is the administration that thought it could come up with a bureau to fix the health-care mess. On second thought, forget the whole thing--just talk amongst yourselves.
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