Friday, January 8, 2016

Figuring Out Our Funny Phrases

The English language has a plethora of weird sayings. Some of their meanings are intuitive. "Blood is thicker than water" is an obvious metaphor for the strong bonds of family. Some have meanings hidden a little deeper, but their backstories make sense. "Caught red handed" refers to a time when a murderer, or a sheep thief, literally needed blood on their hands to prove their guilt. 

Other phrases are just batshit insane. Speaking of batshit insane, why do we say batshit insane? Does guano cause insanity? It may have turned Jim Carrey into an anti-vaxxer nutcase, but how is it such a ubiquitous phrase? I wouldn't know batshit from cat shit if it fell on my head (although that would have to be a big cat) but I know when someone is batshit crazy.

Anyways, that's the type of phrase I'm talking about here. The batshit crazy or just plain odd phrases we all know and have probably used without really thinking about what the hell they mean. Phrases like...

Shoot the shit
"We just sat around shooting the shit." Why does that refer to talking? I get talking shit, but why are you shooting shit? What purpose does that serve? Was that a thing back in the day? People just sat around shooting at piles of dog shit on their lawn, laughing it up. Is that what we did before the internet? Maybe it's "shooting" the shit because for Americans, shooting is as natural as talking? That I certainly believe. Everything is "shooting." I'm gonna shoot up the road and go see the Smiths. Aww, shoot! Shoot your shot. Shoot the shit.
Obsessed much, America?

Butter them up
Why? Someone is supposed to like that? Are they Kramer? What purpose could it possibly serve. other than to make Newman hungry? Even if I wanted butter all over me, I don't want some stranger rubbing it on me just to get some favor in return. Margarine, maybe, but not butter. That'd be weird.  

Let the cat out of the bag 
Why is it a bad thing when someone lets the cat out of the bag? Why was it in the bag in the first place? What were you going to do with it? You were gonna drown it in a river weren't you? Let the damn cat out of the bag! Unless it's the cat that shit on my head earlier. If it is, you're gonna need a pretty big bag. 

Don't toss the baby out with the bath water
Was this ever really a concern? Did people forget to remove a living child from the bathtub before dumping it out the window onto the shit-and-dirty-bath-water-strewn streets? Wait, they did?! Goddamn the past sucked. 

Kick the bucket
Was there just an overabundance of buckets everywhere, so many that people were just tripping all over them and dying? Maybe the elderly and infirm really hated buckets and they would just kick every bucket they saw; soon after they would keel over, and people made the assumption that kicking the bucket caused their deaths. Maybe the bucket was the cause? Were old buckets really heavy or laced with lead? Did kicking buckets lead to a slow death from lead poisoning? That's horrible. What a horrible saying. 

Put your best foot forward
Well, I only have two feet, so this shouldn't be hard. But which one is my best? I jump with my left foot to dunk do sick layups, but I use my right for driving, and I'm right handed. I can do the Daniel-san crane kick with either foot. Shit. Does it really matter that much? I mean, the other foot is coming right behind it, like immediately. Maybe i should just hop? Forget it, I'm just gonna stay in bed to be safe.

Bury the hatchet
This always makes me visualize a person burying a hatchet in someone else's head, but I think it means the opposite. Getting over past grievances. Burying a disagreement. But does that solve the problem, or are you just covering it up? Did the hatchet cause the problem? Are you burying a murder weapon? I guess that's good advice...for murderers. 
Maybe you're burying the hatchet so you won't murder anyone? If that's the case, are you gonna bury all the weapons in the house? And what if you need that hatchet for non-murdery hatchet activities? Seems like a waste of a good hatchet.

Chip on your shoulder
This means someone is angry, but why would I be mad if I have a chip on my shoulder? Chocolate chip or potato chip, I'm happy. Unless it's Sour Cream and Onion or something gross like that. Hell I wouldn't even ask how it got there, I'd just be grateful. 
Maybe it's chip as in cow chip? Like cow shit? Then I'd be mad for sure. First a giant cat shits on my head and now a cow shits on my shoulder? Why does this keep happening? Seriously, though, if this did happen to me on a regular basis, I'd be pissed, but I would have avoided farms altogether after the first time, before it became a damn common idiom. 

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.

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