The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 14, 2005


Carlisle Comments In other words

Have you ever noticed that people have other names for everyday events? Births, deaths, marriages, slight drunkenness, or a little crazy: all seem to be avoided and substitute names or phrases are used. I think there are more colorful terms for death, or a little crazy (I don't mean true insanity) than anything else. These terms are not intended to be belittling, or judgmental, but there are a lot of them.

For instance, instead of saying someone is getting married, they say he popped the question, he is going to bump his head on the altar, take on a ball and chain, tie the knot, walk down the aisle, get hitched, or take the plunge.

Something in the oven, in a family way, or swallowed a watermelon seed can mean that someone is expecting a baby. Years ago a baby could be born on the wrong side of the blanket but we won't go into that. A baby is called a bundle of joy, and of course is brought by the stork.

When we think that someone thinks a little differently from us, we say not dealing with a full deck. Also two sandwiches short of a picnic, elevator doesn't go all the way to the top, doesn't have a full seabag, a bubble off, doesn't have all her marbles, or has his or her own drummer. A little nutty, the porch light is on but there's nobody home, in LaLa Land, and mad as a hatter also fit into that category. We are fast to give alternate titles to anyone different from us.

Death is another term to be avoided at all costs. Grandfather bought the farm last night is easier to say than grandfather died last night. Passed away, gone, kicked the bucket, met his maker, crossed over, at rest, turned up his or her toes, bit the dust, pushing up the daisies, six feet under, gone to either Davy Jones locker or glory land, deader than a doornail (what's a doornail?), or staring at wood. American Indians went to the happy hunting ground. When I lived in Boston, my grocer said that they took a neighbor out in a wooden overcoat. That was a new one on me. Cement overshoes has a slightly different meaning but the results are the same.

Drinking too much is softened by saying things like a little tipsy, plowed, schnockered, pie-eyed, three sheets to the wind, drunk as a skunk, feeling no pain, in his cups, or tanked up. Can't walk a straight line is something you never want to hear about the driver of your car. While taking the plunge means getting married, taking the pledge might be a good idea too.

Are these idioms just idiotic or just plain silly? While we may not be saying just what we mean, we still manage to get the picture across. Sometimes this is funny, sometimes silly, and sometimes not helpful.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito