When I think of cheese, I think of yellow or white, maybe a sharp cheddar or a munster, but the other day I submitted a first draft to the editor of Yes!, a new magazine that I am writing for, and after thinking about the paragraphs, I e-mailed her to cut the last paragraph because I thought it was cheesy. I would re-write the ending.
The article had nothing to do with the kind of cheese we eat, the gouda or pepper jack; rather, I thought the last paragraph was inferior, not how I wanted the article to end. My cheese went from a tasty delight to an idea that I was not too fond to call my own with a quick drop of the “e” and add the “y”.
The word, cheesy, gives me visions of lasagna layered with myriad types of cheese, while reminding me of a bad character in a “b” film. My article’s ending may have been inferior to my standards, but definitely not the sleazy, cheesy character seen in, say, “Pulp Fiction”.
Geez, it’s just cheese when I eat, but it can be sleazy, cheesy, or seedy when I think of characters or words on paper.
I think I will make some lasagna soon.
One of my readers is guiding me as I write on these miswords. She commented that she had to explain to her daughter what “cut the cheese” meant. Our societal norm does not favor us to overly use “flatulence” as we describe the odor emitting from one after a gaseous affair. We use “fart”, “break wind”, or “cut the cheese” — all slang words — but seldom do I hear “Please do not flatus at the dinner table.” I have heard “If you have to fart, please leave the table to do so.” Or, “Did someone cut the cheese?”
To a person whose language is not native English, could you imagine smelling the gas emitting from a person, and then hearing someone ask if that person “cut the cheese”? Non-native speakers have a hard time with all the slang words, idioms we use and take for granted. What they understand is the literal meaning of the words — cut the cheese is literally cutting a piece of cheese, not the foul odor or obnoxious sound we refer to when we “cut the cheese”.
We have thousands of these slang words, idioms that we use everyday and think nothing about because they are ingrained in our language. No wonder English is such a hard language to learn. Then again, our words change all the time, and with the advent of the computer, we have an entirely new language to learn. I wonder how you would text “cut the cheese”?
When I meet with one of my business associates, we talk about good books we have/are reading, and she always mentions my blog. This led her to tell me a story about her young daughter that I need to share. Apparently, her daughter wanted to do something fun and something that she completely accepted. So, she told her daughter, “knock your socks off”, meaning go, have fun. Her daughter responded, “Do I have to take my socks off first?”
Her story reminded me of my own. Al and I had his two grandchildren, Blake and Alexis, in the back seat of our car when he turned around and said, “Do you two burger butts want to go to the Dairy Queen?” They looked at each other with this puzzled look on their faces, not knowing what to say. After a period of silence, Alexis said, “Grandpa, we don’t have burgers in our butts.” Needless to say, Al and I looked at each other, laughed, and then explained to them it was just a term of endearment. They ordered the largest ice cream cone they could get!
Ah — the innocence of childhood……