Hair of the Dog

As You May Recall,

I have something of a fascination with Idioms.  You know, those expressions that are near ancient in origin, which we toss out often enough to assure their permanence in the rhelms of common language.  And yet, when we take a moment to think about what it is we’re actually saying, uh well, What actually are we saying?

For starters, just how guilty are you of  Letting the Cat out of the Bag?  I know I’ve done it more times than I care to publicly admit. Or, maybe not, considering the true meaning of this odd little phrase. Let the Cat out of the Bag:  Possibly related to the fact that in England in the Middle Ages, piglets were usually sold in bags at markets. Sometimes, someone would try to cheat a buyer by putting a cat in one of the bags instead of a piglet. And if someone let the cat out of the bag, the fraudster’s secret was revealed.

And when was the last time your mother, husband, or BFF had to corner you with this particular admonishment:  Get off Your High Horse: Medieval soldiers and political leaders bolstered their claims to supremacy by appearing in public in the full regalia of power, and mounted on large and expensive horses, thus presening themselves as larger than life. The combination of the imagery of being high off the ground when mounted on a great war charger, looking down one’s nose at the common herd, and also being a holder of high office made it intuitive for the term ‘on one’s high horse’ to come to mean ‘superior and untouchable.’

Is it possible that a  little Moderation might be just the thing to keep the dog hair off your tongue:  Hair of the dog is a colloquial expression in the English language predominantly used to refer to alcohol that is consumed with the aim of lessening the effects of a hangover. The expression originally referred to a method of treatment of a rabid dog bite by placing hair from the dog in the bite wound. The use of the phrase as a metaphor for a hangover treatment dates back to the time of William Shakespeare, when it was a popular belief that “a few hairs of the dog that bit you applied to the wound will prevent evil consequences.” Applied to drinks, it means, if overnight you have indulged too freely, take a glass of the same wine within 24 hours to soothe the nerves. “If this dog do you bite, soon as out of your bed, take a hair of the tail the next day.”

As a kid I thought this sounded like a fun idea, but only because I believed real animals were involved:  The term Kangaroo Court may have been popularized during the California Gold Rush of 1849. The first recorded use is from 1853 in a Texas context. It comes from the notion of justice proceeding “by leaps”, like a kangaroo. The phrase is considered an Americanism.

Sadly familiar because it’s practiced so often: Lying through your teeth:  This also may be an expression describing the act of lying with a smile or other patronizing tone or body language.  It is very old, traceable to the early 1300’s.

So, what’s the most oft used idiom in your language closet? Do you know what it really means, or do simply enjoy it for it’s familiarity and the fact that regardless of true meaning everyone tends to “get it” when you say it?

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The Best Laid Plans … Yeah, Right!

It goes something like this …

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of real life, I can’t help but believe that the medicine goes down better when accompanied by a well laid plan spoonful of sugar.  Whether it be a mental list (Bahahahaha, yeah right! What kind’ve bone-head boob would rely on such foolish tactics!) or a tidy inventory laid out on paper– complete with bullet points–I’m all about planning.  Not that all my plans see fruition, it’s more about the fact that having a plan makes me feel fools me into thinking that I have a safety net in position at those times when real life comes along and attempts to blow the post-its off the refrigerator.

Did I mention my delusional tendencies?

Plans are admirable and good, even necessary at times, and yet, to believe they are ironclad or accident proof is to be mighty disappointed delusional.  The hard, cold, nails-down-the-chalkboard-truth, my friends?  Real Life Trumps The Best Laid Plans. 

For example (and I have so many I will make an effort to curb myself from dumping an avalanche here), I never fail to compose a grandiose list of New Year’s resolutions on or about January 1st, ready to sprint out the gate the moment the countdown ends, the ball drops, and I can *officially* crawl into my sparkly new and improved skin.

Make no mistake, I’m no lightweight

Which isn’t to say that I am simply a composer of abundant schemes and flowing designs–no ma’am, not this runaway chicken. To my credit, I stockpile ammo, suit-up, dig-in, and prepare for the long haul. I aim high, because I don’t know any better somewhere deep inside my rock hard head, I’ve succeeded in convincing tricking myself into believing that I’m up for the task and ready to vault over the wall at a moments notice.

My proposed lead into 2012 was no exception. Grand planner that I am, I prepared early, toiled over my intentions,scratched some, and elevated others.  It was an admittedly rosy start and I had a good run. All things orderly, neat, and infinitely promising for nearly a week.  Right up to the moment when the clown car pulled-up  and stormed the castle.

And so …

What happens when THE BEST LAID PLANS step out for a smoke, take a powder, leave the building? Well, duh, for starters you need to make new ones.  You rethink, regroup, refocus.  Because here’s the thing, the reason REAL LIFE trumps all variety of planning is because REAL LIFE is the big ticket, the hot tamale, the Leprechaun’s lucky charms. Whereas PLANS are more akin to those unintelligible instructions that come inside the box of high-quality-assemble-it-yourself furniture (why does it look like a coffee table when you’re supposed to be constructing a chest of drawers???), equal to the odds of winning more than two dollars on a scratch-off lottery ticket or waking up to find Brad Pitt scrambling eggs in your kitchen.

Say What?

Simply put, PLANS are good. They help us streamline, focus, accomplish. But still, there are plenty of times when REAL LIFE has its own PLANS and we’re left feeling as if there’s a runaway tractor trailer barreling straight through the center of our life.  Just as there are nevertheless moments when an even better PLAN comes along and trumps the seemingly perfect one you scribbled on the back of the cocktail napkin or jotted in the margin of the newspaper.

Um hum, REAL LIFE, it’s what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And you? Are you a planner? How often do you defer to Real Life without a knock-down, drag-out fight?