As the title may imply, this post is about interesting day-to-day sayings that we all use but never give a second though as to their beginnings. The origins of these phrases are never etched in stone and sometimes are disputed. What we’ll be examining are the most widely accepted explanations.
Take the phrase “Don’t yank my chain.” Old miners would carry a length of chain with them when in the mine. When they had to use the bathroom (a wheeled cart on rails) they would chock one of the wheels with a piece of chain to keep the other miners from pushing the cart as a joke.
But not all phrases have a unique story behind them. Some are just self-explanatory. But being the multi-tasking 21st century folk that we are, we don’t take the time to consider even these simple idioms. “Rattle his cage” is one such phrase. As one would expect, this comes from the juvenile act of disturbing caged animals.
As I sought to explain the cliché “a rolling stone gathers no moss,” I realized that it became obsolete before it was created. My objective was to use the word “roll,” but alas, I found this a daunting task hardly worth pursuing.
For hours I sat in my writer’s room and conjured up my very own expression. First, the stone had to go. I lovingly replaced it with boulder. I then asked myself “who would want to gather moss anyway?”
I finally decided upon a saying that would scratch my every verbal itch and supply dinner at the same time. Hence, “A rolling boulder gathers a lot of organic matter.” Unfortunately, this phrase means absolutely nothing.
But I just happen to like the image of a large rock covered in squished woodland creatures. Maybe I’ll fill the freezer.
I was once told that while writing the bible, if a scribe made a mistake, he would have to start over in order to maintain perfection. I don’t know if this is true or not (I tend to lean towards not) however, it does give me a way to get out of this blog.
I’ll be the first to admit that this post got away from me. But it’s my name at the top of this page. I say embrace the lunacy. And who knows? Maybe next week’s post will make a little more sense.
And if anyone stumbles upon the meaning of this diatribe, make sure to contact me right away. I can be reached via text message, phone and smoke signal.