Paul Greenberg

"Oh, dear. Sorry to hear that. But your prose remains as prosaic as ever. Your phrases must be the most widely disseminated in our cultural, if you'll pardon my French, milieu. We are all indebted to you."

"Don't mention it. Please don't mention it. To anyone."

"I'm here to get your take on this year's presidential race. Which candidate do you favor?"

"Whichever one will prove to be a change agent."

"Which reminds me: What did the caucus-goers in Iowa vote for?"

"Change."

"What did that do to the presidential race?"

"It upended it."

"In light of the results from Iowa, who are you betting on to win the presidential nomination of their respective parties?"

"All bets are off."

"So what kind of presidential candidate are you looking for?"

"Someone who'll be ready for the job from Day One."

"That sounds familiar."

"Thank you. It's an oldie but a goodie."

"What has her poor showing in Iowa done to Hillary Clinton's presidential hopes?"

"She's down but not out."

"What does she hope to become in New Hampshire?

"The Comeback Kid."

"Is there anything new these days in the cliche business?''

"Nope. The more things changeŠ"

"The more they stay the same?"

"That's the bottom line."

"But on balance, how do these times shape up?"

"It's the best of times, it's the worst of times."

"Yeah, Charlie Dickens spoke for the ages, all right, any of them. But what will cliches be like in the future?''

"First and foremost, they'll be bigger and better."

"Thank you, sir, but as much as I've enjoyed thisŠ"

"Stroll down memory lane?"

"Yes, that's the exact phrase I wasn't looking for. But my question was about the future, not the past. What can you tell me about it?"

"It lies ahead."

"How should we meet it?"

"We must hope for the best but be prepared for the worst."

"Yes, but what will the new year bring?"

"Only time can tell."

"Thanks. That would make a great conclusion, so to speak, for a column. So safe."

"On the other hand"

"One can never tell?"

"That's it. You're catching on. It's simple once you get the hang of it. Just put your mind in idle and let it drift. Then the cliches never stop coming. It's thinking that's the (clear and present) danger to cliche-making. Don't worry, be happy. A cliche a day keeps thought away."

"Thanks for your time. It's been a (familiar) pleasure interviewing you.''

"My pleasure entirely. Have a good day. Catch you later," said M. Cliche, smiling like the, yes, proverbial Cheshire Cat.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.