Dusting the wheels on the fridge-a true story

Sayings that take on a life of their own

It is my observation that families and/or people who have known each other a long time and shared many experiences end up with some unique words or phrases in their vocabularies.  The phrase might be the result of someone making a mistake in the use of a word…or an idiom gone wrong and then over time the phrase becomes normalized within the group or family.  In fact it becomes so “normal” that it’s used without thought or thinking that you might need to explain the phrase to those who aren’t aware of the history.

In our family a few of those off-kilter phrases are:

  • If you give a man an inch, he’ll take a rope RATHER THAN if you give a man an inch, he’ll take a mile.  A mistake someone made once in the presence of my mother and so 60 years later, the phrase lives on in our vernacular.
  • Pronunciations we know are wrong but we use them either for effect or automatically leaving the listener wondering about knowledge our grammar. One such word is fingernilefail RATHER THAN fingernail file.  
  • </. Our mother used the former and now I have to think hard before using the word at all.

    And so we come to Dusting The Wheels On The Fridge. Years ago when we were invited to our dear friends' home for dinner we arrived to find them in the middle of a marital "discussion". It went something like this-he felt they should be focussing on the dinner party preparations for the evening. She (according to her husband) was spending the limited time cleaning things and doing tasks that were not on the critical path to a successful evening. He coined the phrase and asked her to stop "dusting the wheels on the fridge!"

    It is a phrase we have used since. And one that rings so true for me- particularly when I am going away for a bit. Instead of focussing on the packing or preparing I suddenly have a need to send cards I should have sent weeks ago or finish all the laundry (even if not needed for the trip) or phone someone or or or.
    A true story and recently born out yet again as I readied for a few days away. Is it just me who is compelled to dust the wheels on the fridge at the least appropriate time?

    Do you have sayings and words that are unique?

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