Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Monday, July 13, 2009 Half of One, Six Dozen of the Other
It was during our honeymoon, ironically enough, that I realized what was wrong with her.
This is something I've been putting off writing about for literally years. It's a difficult subject to tackle, not just because of its scale and scope, but because it's such an integral part of who my wife is that it seemed like an invasion of her privacy to discuss it here. But recently, she's been encouraging me to just put it out there in the open, and damn the tornadoes.
Yes, I know the expression is "damn the torpedoes," but Trash doesn't. In fact, she doesn't know any expressions at all.
But as I said, it wasn't until our honeymoon that I realized this. We've always been trendsetters, and our honeymoon in 1991 was a "staycation," before that word had even been invented. We were both off work for a week, and we spent it in and around town. I remember exactly on what stretch of 35-W we were on when she suddenly said that two potential options for something that weren't all that different were "half of one, six dozen of the other."
"What did you say?" I asked.
"Half of one, six dozen of the other," she repeated.
I don't even remember what we were discussing, but I vividly remember her highly amused reaction when I explained to her that the expression is "six of one, half-dozen of the other." And that the expression as she had used it would have implied a difference in a factor of 144, which is in fact quite significant. This is not to say that she's used the expression correctly since.
At least then, I could see what she was trying to do. Unlike later that same day, when she was commenting on the audacity of pedestrians and other drivers on the U of M campus: "They've got their balls in a sling and they're whippin' em!" she declared. I still don't know what that means.
And by this time, we were already married. It was too late.
But here's where I kind of get into the weeds. Not having recorded any of her countless epic idiomatic fails, I don't feel like I could really do the depth of her syndrome justice.
I could tell you about the time she attempted the "bird in hand" expression, and got both the meaning and the words wrong, which resulted into the two of us spiraling into a lengthy discussion in which I attempted to explain the numerous (admittedly nonsensical) premises behind the expression. She just couldn't get past one central fact: "I don't want a bird in my hand! Then I've got bird shit on my hand. No, thank you."
I could tell you about the interview she had years ago with a highly-ranked children's librarian, someone who would have been a great contact to have in her then-future career. Everything was going great until she attempted to invoke the "wolf in sheep's clothing" expression, only to land on "a wolf in grandpa's sheepskin rubber" instead. Could she have saved it if she hadn't noticed his shocked reaction and tried again, simply blurting, "Hungry like the wolf?" Possibly not. "Grandpa's Sheepskin Rubber," of course, was the name of a novelty song some friends and I wrote in junior high and later told her about. The interview ended shortly thereafter.
Or the time she was on a conference call at work, which ground to a halt when she said, "That's like cutting off your ear to spite your nose. Or cutting off your face. Keep your ears. Is there also a baby?"
Or a few classic recurring one-liners, like "Christ in a handbasket," or adding "like a banshee" as an all-purpose intensifier, as in "He's working like a banshee" or "she had to pee like a banshee," or just about anything other than screaming.
But the tragic fact is that no matter how well I told you any of these stories, I could never capture the way some of our conversations veer into the kind of territory where I'm playing the Mark-Linn Baker role in Perfect Strangers. And if I did, you'd never believe me.
But maybe you'll believe our other friends.
Other friends? Step up here. Tell the readers who don't know the magic of Trash in person what she can do to a saying. How she can put it under a barrel, and beat it like a red-headed mule. I'm too close to it. I'm counting on you. posted by M. Giant 7:42 PM 37 comments
I have to be honest: it happens so frequently that I stopped memorizing them.
Wow, a friend of mine does the same "like a banshee" thing. I have absolutely no idea why. Who knew there was another one?
As a child I heard the expression as "six
You should get her "I'm Not Hanging Noodles On Your Ears..." That should give her something to chew over.
I laughed so hard at this I almost woke the napping toddler. You might say I laughed like a banshee.
"Don't eat all of the chickens in your baskets" Said at a library meeting, in reference to not expecting one group of people to do all of the work. I think she meant "don't put all of your eggs in one basket" but who knows.
"They've got their balls in a sling and they're whippin' em!"
There are sooooooo many to remember. Some favorites:
A couple more (she must like animal themes):
"Don’t punch a Christmas horse"
Also, Linda is totally correct. I can't remember names at all, and I do make up titles for just about everything, and then only my friends know what the hell I am saying. Well, except Ice-T, who I could NEVER forget.
Well, I don't know Trash. But my husband has the same syndrome. I knew before we were married and decided to go ahead and marry him anyway.
I'm guessing the Christmas horse is, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth"
Yeah. I definitely think "Christmas horse" means, in some mentally perverted fashion (no offense), "gift horse."
The not being able to remember names and going around them thing reminds me of Bubbles from Ab Fab. It worried me the first time I realised that I did exactly the same thing and that I could usually get what she was referring to very quickly.
Oh my lord, I am so cracking up at these. I have a friend who does the same thing with names of restaurants and movies...combining them in weird ways to make all new crazy titles. Good times.
Oh, sweet tap-dancing Jesus. This is such a Gordian Knot. Ten pounds of trouble in a five-pound bag.
I had a friend that would say, "that went over like a lead fart in church"
These were fantastic. I've been laughing out loud since I read them. I keep picturing that poor Christmas hourse. And of course, that unfortunate camel toe...
These were fabulous! As a transplant to MN, I have to say, I had never heard the "half of six, dozen of another" expression before. But everyone up here loves it so much. I try, I really do, but I have never gotten that one right. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like my blunder is half as charming as Trash's.
Trash and I had a whole discussion about gift horses yesterday. Some of the exchanges these trigger are even funnier than the messed-up sayings themselves.
"I say she's good for at least one hour of Discovery Channel TV."
This was hilarious. My husband does something similar - he's not good with names, so he tends to remember new people as Steve or Sue. (Except for the people who are really named Steve and Sue who get given other names.)
Trash must be related to my now-retired assistant who used to say "feast or phantom."
First off, I think the use of the word "trigger" related to gift horses is brilliant (not sure if anyone else caught that Roy Rogers reference from M. Giant.
An example from this week: homeless phone.
So she can't remember names, nouns, or sayings? Has anyone called House yet? These aren't sudden changes, are they?
I'm laughing to tears at this. Too hilarious!
I had a boss who did this same exact thing all the time, but unfortunatley the only one I can remember right now is her always being "behind the egg ball", which pisses me off because that means now I am forgetting stuff, crap!
Yeah, I get that from my In-Laws. They don't "nip things in the bud", they like to "nip things in the butt".
I do the banshee thing, too! Banshees do everything to the extreme, which is why they are such useful analogues for excess.
I'm reading these to my husband and have tears streaming down my face from trying to read these and contain the laughter at the same time.
I always thought the saying was "Six IS one half dozen to the other."
My husband says, "Six or one half-dozen of another." I can't imagine what he thinks it means, but he's too old to learn it the right way now. I'm going to keep him anyway.
I had the pleasure of working with a well-known D.C.-based lobbying firm about a year ago, and the gentlemen I met with once a week had a knack for mixing--or just totally wrecking--idioms. I took notes. Some of my favorites:
Trash JUST said another one to me. "It's like two birds in a stone bath."
I found this thread when searching for something an ex-girlfriend once said to me: "Half of one, six dozen of the other." I wanted to see if anyone else had mangled the old saying in just the same way. Sure enough, there it was in this thread. I'm posting now not only to commiserate with others who've lived with CIMs (Chronic Idiom-Manglers), but also to offer a data point of evidence that this disorder may be hereditary. That same girlfriend's mother was known to exhibit a similar pattern. In a fit of rage, shortly after marrying my ex's father, she reportedly once threatened him with this: "I'm going to stab you with a gun and shoot you with a knife!"