The Mix Master

April 19, 2004

I once worked with a gentleman who had a gift for mixing metaphors, for combining popular expressions into delightful, and sometimes startling, new phrases.

Some were simple. One day, “bus stop” and Harry S Truman’s famed “The buck stops here” came out as “The bus stops here!”

On another occasion, “run through that” and “run that by me again” took on a swashbuckling flavor with “Run that through me again.”

In a quiet moment, the difficulty of being caught “between a rock and a hard place” and the confidentiality of “just between you, me and the lamppost” blended seamlessly into “This is between you and me and a rock.”

Once we looked for our umbrellas as “barking up the wrong tree” and “pissing up a rope” became “He’s pissing up the wrong tree.”

I did feel my eyebrows rise on the day he combined “nuts & bolts” with “bare bones” and told us he wanted to “get down to bare nuts.”

But only once did I lose control. At a meeting of the firm, the gentleman noted that he was going to see a client that evening at a party and would use the opportunity to bring up an important project. He was thinking about “cornering” the client and “button-holing” him. And so he said, “I’m going to corn-hole this guy tonight.”

“What a party!” said one of my co-workers, who apparently wasn’t worried about his job. The woman to my left covered her face with her hands. I’m sorry. I’m still laughing.

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