5.15.2008

A word or two on an ugly boot.

Words are so superficial.

My mind is not highly vocabularied. In fact, it is a jumble of mishaps and misrepresentations of the English language. Words with mistaken identities. Thrown amongst none their equal. What comes out of my mouth doesn't compute with what goes on in command central. Like Captain-Explain-Yourself thinking he's firing a high-impact round of precision and clarity, when all that comes out of that gun are flowers and doo.

Cliches are in there somewhere, hiding from me. They hate me.

Like the six to one half dozen of the eggs in my basket in the hayfield with the black kettle who got the short end of the raw deal, hiding behind the horse's foot in my mouth.

Um. Seriously.

I've learned to accept it. We just try to leave eachother alone.

Nursery rhymes...oh brother...those claim anomoly. Am I ignorant? Maybe. I prefer uneducated. Wait a minute...

There was an old woman living in a shoe, who didn't have a bone for her dog, cause she ate flies, and whipped all her kids....while the spider sat on her muffet. Huh?

Oh, literary pleasantries.

I've had this "thing" with the old woman in the shoe. I remember as a child sitting on our blue flowery couch reading in a book of nursery rhymes, looking at this picutre and thinking..."I'm glad I don't live in her shoe."


It is, in fact, such an ugly shoe. I'd prefer some Vans. A classic slip-on. Camoflauge. So all those kids couldn't find me. Or maybe some clear sparkly Jellies from the 80's. My favorite.

Words have a history. They are history. So let's explore the past of this unstable woman in the ugly shoe thing, and maybe we'll learn something...

There was an Old Woman who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children she didn't know what to do!
So she gave them some broth without any bread,
And she whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.

Uh, yeah, okay...again, words alone are sketchy. Don't judge them so harshly.

Here's the history.

The Old Woman refers to King George who began that wierd white powdered wig thing in men's fashion. He was consequently referred to as the old woman.

All those kids were the members of the English Parliament, and the shoe was the Parliament House. Makes sense.

The term "whip" is given to the English Parliament member who is tasked with making sure the other members toe the line. (There's another one. What the heck does toe the line mean? I know, do what's right, follow the rules, blah blah. What does that have to do with toes?)


So there it is. The poor cranky woman I labeled as cruel and needing Social Service attention was really a powerful man with fashion sense. All these years, wasted. We could've had a relationship.


Funny how easy it is to brand someone by the words we think we understand, referring only to our own subjective dictionary, without delving a little into their history?

One time Conan was leaving the house, on our anniversary, and so I asked him where he was going and he said he was going to see a man about a dog. I was SO mad. I didn't want a smelly dog for our anniversary! SO DUMB! I'm not going to love that dog...what is he thinking...

He came home with a trunk load of flowers and window boxes. For me. I apologized.

Point being, I've learned something from the Old Woman. You can't launch an inquisition on a persons reverenced past; so you can't pretend to know the true story behind their flowers and doo. Or what's going on inside their shoe. Whether it be an ugly old crowded boot, or a funky red stiletto. Who cares.

I'm sure the ugly boot was charming.

Like a camel in a haystack.

Huh?

scribbit write-away contest

11 comments:

Lori said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lori said...

Sorry I got my cuts and pastes messed up before. 2nd try:

The phrase "toe the line" is equivalent to "toe the mark," both of which mean to conform to a rule or a standard. The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002; ed. by Glynnis Chantrell) says, "The idiom toe the line from an athletics analogy originated in the early 19th century" (514).
The specific sport referred to is foot-racing, where the competitors must keep their feet behind a "line" or on a "mark" at the start of the race--as in "On your mark, get set,
go!"

So one who "toes the line" is one who does not allow his foot to stray over the line. In other words, one who does not stray beyond a rigidly defined boundary
Source: http://grammartips.homestead.com/toetheline.html
-----------------------------------
While the phrase has been indisputably re-used several times throughout history, from naval ships, to boxing, to foot races, the most convincing origin of the phrase comes from the House of Commons in British Parliament.

The House of Commons, historically and currently in its modern form, has two sets of lines separating the front row benches. These lines are better than a "sword's length" apart from each other, to keep over excited members from appealing to their swords to settle debate. It was quite common through much of the House's history, dating back to the 14th Century, to have its members armed with swords.

In modern courtrooms you may hear a judge demand "order, order in the courtroom" in times of heated exchange. In the House of Commons, the Speaker would demand that members, "Toe the line, toe the line," if debate was becoming heated, particularly along the front rows. The mortal consequences of heated exchange between armed men demanded strict adherence to the House rules. Thus, the phrase “toe the line” was echoed throughout the House to return order and to quell the growing conflict.

The primary connotation of “toe the line” is: “To adhere to rules or doctrines conscientiously; conform” (American Heritage) and “To conform to a rule or standard” (Oxford). Thus “toeing the line” was conforming to the rules of the House of Commons, just as maintaining “order” is conforming to the rules of a courtroom.

A visit to the House of Commons at The Palace of Westminster will confirm this version of the idiom’s history and they will proudly show you the two lines running through the hall.

The most commonly cited source for the “sports origin” theory is foot-racing, where the competitors must keep their feet behind a "line" or on a "mark" at the start of the race—as in "On your mark, get set, go!" So one who "toes the line" is one who does not allow his foot to stray over the line. Another sports theory is boxing, where two boxers were required to stand toe to toe with one another on a line. A referee would call out, "Toe the line!" requiring both boxers to put their respective toes on a chalk line, face each other and get ready to box.
Source: http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/toe+the+line

cally said...

brilliant, lori. Who knew?

MiaKatia said...

Whoa!! I learned something new today. Thanks Cally and Lori for filling my brain. I am going to impresses my hubby with all my new knowledge tonight. Good thing I blog ;)

Coatney Family said...

ummm....dude? i'm so confused now. it hurts. the thinking. it hurts. oh the pain.

Sheila said...

Cally, loved this post. I guess today is a 'huge' learning day for me. I had never researched this before. toodles, Sheila

Scribbit said...

I had no idea that's what it was about. Learn something every day!

wendypg said...

Thanks for the history of the nursery rhym, I just thought it was about some prozac filled crazy lady. (Probably FLDS) You are an amzaing writer Callie - you have some real talent there.

Alice Wills Gold said...

love the insight.

Daisy said...

My husband likes to mix his metaphors, too. One of his favorites is "Take the bull by the horns -- and run with it!"

Natalie said...

I love the irony in the way you act like your not good with words! Amazing stuff, girl!