….might be short and sweet as I have had a busy weekend! Urban Raid race yesterday, today my husband thought we should strip the shingles and try to metal the roof. We did the back of the house last fall after some damage, but have not had time or help to do it this year. So just he and I started at 7am and stopped at 5pm. We got a good chunk done, and now we are tired. It was 87 F here today. But, as I said last week, I need to suck it up. However, I never said I had to do a LOT of clichés 😉
What shall we do this week? Another hodgepodge perhaps? What fun word, hodgepodge. So many words that have great sounds that we just don’t use enough. I think we will go with general Americanisms; that is, clichés that were born in America.
as easy as pie: very easy or simple. Not that making pie is easy, I have vivid memories of my teenage brother attempting to make the pie crust. I do believe it hit the floor at least once. But, as we all know, eating pie is easy. Particularly apple of course, because nothing is as American as apple pie! The first time we see this phrase ‘as nice as pie’, was found in Which: Right or Left? in 1855:
“For nearly a week afterwards, the domestics observed significantly to each other, that Miss Isabella was as ‘nice as pie!'”
Mark Twain frequently used just ‘pie’ to mean pleasant or accommodating: In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1884,
“You’re always as polite as pie to them.”
bad hair day: first, literally, as a bad hair day. And who hasn’t had one of those? After a while, this phrase just came to mean a bad day in general. I love this phrase in particular as it comes from one of my favorite movies: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1992. I saw this film almost by accident when we went to the movies and it was the only one with seats left. It was awesome. I can’t count how many times I have seen it since. In the film, Buffy says to Amilyn (masterfully overacted by Paul Ruebens):
“I’m fine but you’re obviously having a bad hair day.”
the bee’s knees: the best, excellent. I love that this is an American phrase. It is just so cute! And where did it come from? Do bee’s actually have knees? ‘Bee’s knees’ began to be used in the early 20th century. In the beginning, it was just a nonsense expression that denoted something that didn’t have any meaningful existence – the kind of thing that a naive apprentice would be sent to the stores to ask for, like a ‘sky-hook’ or ‘striped paint’. That meaning is apparent in a spoof report in the New Zealand newspaper The West Coast Times in August 1906, which listed the cargo carried by the SS Zealandia as ‘a quantity of post holes, 3 bags of treacle and 7 cases of bees’ knees’. The teasing wasn’t restricted to the southern hemisphere. The US author Zane Grey’s 1909 story, The Shortstop, has a city slicker teasing a yokel by questioning him about make-believe farm products:
“How’s yer ham trees? Wal, dog-gone me! Why, over in Indianer our ham trees is sproutin’ powerful. An’ how about the bee’s knees? Got any bee’s knees this Spring?”*
catch-22: a situation that where the attempt to escape makes escape impossible. Famously, the title of a book by Joseph Heller which brought the phrase to life.
Yossarian looked at him soberly and tried another approach. “Is Orr crazy?”
“He sure is,” Doc Daneeka said.
“Can you ground him?”
“I sure can. But first he has to ask me to. That’s part of the rule.”
“Then why doesn’t he ask you to?”
“Because he’s crazy,” Doc Daneeka said. “He has to be crazy to keep flying combat missions after all the close calls he’s had. Sure, I can ground Orr. But first he has to ask me to.”
“That’s all he has to do to be grounded?”
“That’s all. Let him ask me.”
“And then you can ground him?” Yossarian asked.
“No. Then I can’t ground him.”
“You mean there’s a catch?”
“Sure there’s a catch,” Doc Daneeka replied. “Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy.“