Saying things we only can wish we had thought of

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 2, 2005

If only I was as clever as my wife, Rae, thinks I am. Believe it or not, my loving (Read: naive) wife gives me credit for inventing some of the most timeless clich\u00E9s - or colloquialisms.

While the word may be hard to say, the expressions are not.

"Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." "That is the pot calling the kettle black." "Busier than a one-armed paper hanger"

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Basically, colloquialisms are informal expressions that we all hear and use on a daily basis. Well, not all of us, not my wife.

See, she is a smart woman; an honors graduate from Morehead State University who is working on a master's degree in higher education. She knows more about geography, sociology and psychology than I could absorb from any textbook. But when it comes to colloquialisms, well, let's just say she's still working on her beginner's degree.

I don't remember the set up, but my wife asked me a serious question one day to which I responded, "Six to one, half dozen to another."

The perplexed look she gave me was priceless. You would have thought that I had just told her that the sky was brown and the Martians were landing.

"Sixty one and dozen for another?" she asked with that puzzled look growing across her face. "You just made that up."

I only wish I had thought of it. After significant explanation, she had her mind wrapped around the expression and liked it. So, on we went without another thought.

It was a few days later when the, in my mind, well-known horseshoes and hand grenades expression blasted from my mouth. Being knowledgeable in neither hand grenades nor horseshoes, once again my wife was stumped.

I explained and thanks to the wonderful wealth of knowledge on the Internet, I later explained to her that it is a baseball saying from the 1930s. The full quote is, "Close doesn't count in baseball. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades."

OK, two down but countless more to go. Now it has become an interesting game for me to come up with obscure expressions just to see her reaction. And sometimes, despite what I tell her, Rae still thinks I came up with them on my own. Honestly, it is nice when your significant other thinks you are smarter than you really are.

So I certainly won't look a gift horse in the mouth. No, honey, I did not just call you a horse.

Michael Caldwell is managing editor at The Ironton Tribune. To reach Mike, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at