I get ill all the time, but no one wants to hear about that.
– Paul Theroux
I was in Dick’s Sporting Goods recently and found myself laughing in the aisle. Twin 2, who has begun to suspect her father is unusual, asked what was so funny.
“They’re playing a silly song,” I told her.
For on the PA system was Run-DMC’s “You Be Illin’,” which contains one of balladry’s more lamentable parables:
Dinner, you ate it, there is none left
It was salty – with butter – and it was def.
You proceeded to eat it ’cause you was in the mood
But homes you did not read: it was a can of dog food!
This in turn was the Alpo madeleine of a memory from college. I had gone to a department office to drop off a paper. How I laughed at the sign on the door:
Closed Due to Illness
Now then. Your help, if I may: would you please let me know what’s your favorite idiom?
One of my resolutions is to teach my students an idiom a week.
My favorite is “barking up the wrong tree.” That combination of ardor and error – I do believe it captures something essential about la condition humaine. (Don’t worry, I just tell the kids it means you’re mistaken.)
NB a previous colleague left a book filled with pages of idioms, more than I can teach, so I don’t need suggestions – rather, I want your favorite one.
PS it does not go without saying – there are scoundrels among you – that I request your favorite idiom appropriate for children.