Sink Hole
Off the Wall, April 23,
2015

Just as I was about to write a column on the origins of some of the sayings people use on a regular basis did I get an email from an avid reader who disclosed some phrases and their histories. I can only accredit his sharing as being prompted by the Holy Spirit who always helps out in times of need.

Today, I thought I’d share some of these along with my own input, of course. What would this column be without some ‘Peeveeistic’ thought patterns? So let me get started.

When I envision the words ‘sleep tight,’ I can only imagine being wedged in a sleeping bag in a small space whether it is inside or out. In as much as I used to sleep in one in my attic, move ability was non-existent, so I ‘slept tight.’

According to Expression History, “Early beds were made with a wooden frame. Ropes were tied across the frame in a crisscross pattern. A straw mattress was then put on top of the ropes. Over time, the ropes stretched, causing the bed to sag. The owner would then have to tighten the ropes to get a better night’s sleep.”

“Hey Irene,” Rodney said. “You look like a chicken with its head cut off.”

First of all, no human can look like a chicken with or a without a head. Both Irene and the chicken are upstanding individuals, that’s a known fact. Can’t you just hear Rodney saying, “Hey Irene, I sure love you a lot better when you have your ‘act together.’” I wonder if she could team up with the headless horsemen.

From idioms.thefreedictionary.com comes this explanation. “Chickens have been known to twitch and even stagger around for several minutes after being decapitated, the response of reflexive response. A person in the throes of extreme emotional agitation exhibits the same sort of ‘fowl’ play.”

“Maggie ran around the house looking for her lost glasses like a chicken with its head cut off,” is one example.

“Hey Stan, I have a real bone to pick with you.” I think this one is good for anthropologists. Stan is not one, I can tell you that. He’s never told me he’s a bone picker, a matter of fact. We don’t scrape the soil for skeleton pieces, so picking dirt covered substances ‘isn’t our bag,’ so to speak.

“‘Bone to pick’ dates back to the 16th century,” states www.answerbag.com “and refers to a dog chewing endlessly on and picking clean a large bone. ‘A bone to pick’ is thus a large subject or issue that is expected to require considerable discussion or argument and be resolved between or among individuals.”
“Hey Jay, Did you know Mary Lou didn’t have a leg to stand on when she told Dave she’d be there, but had no intention on showing up?” Thank God she still has one left. Someone better hold on to her as she tries to move forward. One legging it, she isn’t going very far very fast.

From www.phrases.org we read, “It’s a folksy way of describing something that has no support. Years ago, one used to have four-legged stools. A stool without a single leg to stand on was incapable of supporting one.”

When I think of sink hole, three things come to mind – the kitchen sink, the drain in the sink and the ever famous holes in the ground that we Latrobeans know so well.

When I put my pans into the sink for soaking, I look down into a cavity I consider a ‘sink hole.’ In the middle of that opening is another’ sink hole’ known commonly as the drain. All makes sense to me. But then when I moved to this city, I learned about the undermining of the area and that certain parts of roads and properties develop holes leading to destinations unknown. It could leave me with a ‘sinking feeling…’

“Hey John, don’t you think that guy coming in the door ‘looks like a criminal?’” Sadly, I have talked to one retired police officer who told me he could tell just by looking at an individual that one was a criminal. Passing judgment is always wrong. Behavioral patterns determine wrong-doers status. Couldn’t find an origin.

When you read the Latrobe Bulletin today, it will be “Hot Off the Press.” As the newspaper goes through the rotary printing press, friction causes it to heat up. When grabbed it feels hot, thus ‘hot off the press.'


- Paul J. Volkmann
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