The Origin of Helpful Adages

You know, as a kid I always thought that every saying should always come from a literal and basic truth. Like, that bears repeating. Or, that doesn’t bear repeating. I pictured that fuzzy little grizzly doing the same things over and over. And that would get boring, I suppose. But what sense did it make?

And what’s with some of these other ones?

Can’t get fish from a pear tree. Maybe what they really meant was Apache people don’t like to trade fishes for pelts, and someone just heard it wrong and thought, “A pear tree. Well, that’s queer, yet true at the same time.”

Also, there’s that whole “all of the sudden” thing. (First of all, some people say “the sudden”, and some people say “a sudden”. Will we ever know who really had it right?) When does that particular sudden happen, and why can’t they just say “when suddenly”, instead of telling you that it was not just part but ALL of a/the sudden that occurred before it happened. Whatever it was.

Engendered truths. What is more true than gender, I ask you? Well, since recent years have brought about things like lesbigay adoption, gender confused pets in movies, drag queens, and Cher… I’m willing to say there are quite a lot of things we could come up with truer than gender. Like, dirt. Dirt is always dirt. So endirted truths really don’t change. Do they?

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Yeah. Amen to that one. Let’s just rip ALL the covers off, and then we can spend literally hours at the bookstore looking for an AP style guide because we have to read at least part of the way through every tome we come across until we figure out what the heck it’s talking about. Good plan.

Still waters run deep. Still? What, did they not used to at some point? Why are we bothering to talk about how deep they still are, when we could just say how deep they are now and have done with it? I think usually when people are looking into aquatic depth, they don’t really care how long it’s been that particular measurement, anyway.

Beauty is only skin deep. Why make something into a saying if it’s going to be such an obvious lie? I mean, come on. If skin was all we had to worry about, why would models waste so much effort trying to stay so dang skinny? And who would bother with clothes, because that’s covering up the skin? Also, what’s with this obsession of depth measurements already!??

Time flies when you’re having fun. Who in their right mind would make it their business to actually time flies? (As if it’s not annoying enough just having them around and needing to swat them every so often?) Not to mention having fun at it. Good grief, the people who make these up must have the strangest hobbies.

Don’t cry over spilled milk. I would really, really like to meet the person who inspired this phrase. Making them cry sounds like it would be obscenely easy. And nothing is funnier than irritating someone who cries at the drop of a hat, over really stupid things.

All that glitters is not gold. No, duh. I mean, have you ever heard of a thing called diamonds? Not to mention glitter. Glitter, by definition glitters. And to be very honest, gold really doesn’t glitter that much anyway, it more reflects in a yellowish way. Accuracy, come on!

Don’t run with scissors. A truer warning was never heeded. But one has to wonder, if the purpose of this phrase was to protect the well-being of those hearers who might have easily otherwise picked up a pair of shears and made haste toward an outlying area, then why not expand the phrase to include all other sharp and potentially deadly objects with which it is unsafe to run? Guess there’s no such thing as an all-purpose phrase. Except maybe this one: Don’t run with sharp objects, ever. Dumbass.

Don’t change horses in mid-stream. Okay, I would also like to meet the person who can actually change horses. It seems to me though that they left out the most important part of this phrase. Like, what are you changing the horse into? How did you learn how to do that, and if not mid-stream, which level of stream allows for the change of matter from one animal to another? Curious.

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Oh, so many angles I could go with on this one, but I think I’m just going to stick with this: Oh yeah? What about the words “Ready, Aim, Fire”?

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