Wednesday, December 14, 2005


No, I’m not talking about facial expressions.

I’m referring to Strange Idioms, the kind of things that sound just a key.

For instance: This evening, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I braved the elements and drove to one of the region’s many fine Shopping Malls. It’s a task I dread, particularly this time of year; but, being the Good Husband, I came along to provide Companionship, Moral Support, and Package Schlep Assistance (if needed).

As we approached the dreaded Mall Vicinity, SWMBO announced that, owing to the rotten weather, she was going to park “under the neath.” By which she meant inside one of the covered parking decks.

Now, there’s a good Strange Expression for you. Under the Neath. Not underneath, mind you, but Under the Neath.

The Missus uses this peculiar locution all the time. I had to remind her that she learned it from me, years ago. But where did I get it? Inquiring minds don’t give a shit want to know.

For the answer, let me introduce you to my old friend Walter, he of a certain Very Professional Japanese Dinner in September.

Back in our High School Days, Walter and I both took German classes, and we lost no opportunity to use the Teutonic Tongue to create ridiculous new phraseologies.

In German, unter means “under”: no surprise. But there’s really no equivalent to the English “underneath,” at least, as far as we knew. So Walter made one up: Unter dem Neath, which can be rendered in English as Under the Neath. It was so catchy, here we are still saying it after over 35 years.

Walter also introduced me to another Strange Expression: Side by Each. Whereas most normal English-speaking humans say “side by side” when they are (for example) walking alongside someone else, Walter would always say “side by each.” He always claimed it was a New England thing, an expression that people would use in Vermont. True? I have no idea...but I still say “side by each” every so often, and when I do, I always think of my friend Walter.

Have you ever heard of people saying “side by each”? What other bizarre idioms have you heard?

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