Annals of English idioms

Conversation with a friend who immigrated to the U.S. to attend Harvard College:

  • Me: Do you and [Betsy] want to go for a walk in the woods tomorrow morning with Mindy the Crippler?
  • Him: I don’t know if she’s free.
  • Me: Can you ask?
  • Him: She’s working from home. I’m not allowed to go into her woman-hole.
  • Me: Take it from a native English speaker… that is probably not the idiom you’re looking for.

(It later transpired that his native-speaker daughter, whose room is upstairs, referred to mom’s ground floor home office as a “woman cave” and this had been slightly altered in the dad’s mind.)

Separately, we came up with a strategy in case any of the righteous townsfolk scolded us for failure to social distance. The response: “I’m sorry if you don’t approve of our lifestyle. My husband and I are accustomed to homophobia, but I think his sister here would learn from a dialog. Shall we head down to the rainbow chairs at the First Parish Church and discuss your feelings about same-sex relationships?”


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Samsung dryer drum cracked

The Samsung repair guy came into our pantry/laundry closet last week to fix the dryer. I cleared mountains of clutter away from the appliance, including 11 rolls of paper towels, 29 rolls of Charmin, 161 Ziploc bags, 33 squeeze bags of apple sauce, and a six-pack of individually packaged roasted chestnuts from China. I moved the quart of vanilla extract and the 3 lb. bag of walnuts that was resting on a pallet of Kirkland AA batteries. I slid the four tubes of Colgate back and asked if he needed a few of the ibuprofen pills from the yoked-together 500-pill bottles.

He said “Wow, I’ve never seen a household that was this well-stocked for a quarantine before.” I replied, “Quarantine? Those are just the leftovers from shopping at Costco in January, before we’d even heard of coronavirus.”

[For students of state-of-the-art appliances, this was an extra large gas dryer, 9.5 cu. ft. capacity, DV56H9100GW, purchased six years ago for $1,200. The theory was that we’d have to do laundry just one per week in our monster front-loading machines. In practice, we end up doing a lot of small loads and regular-sized machines would have worked just as well. Engineering the huge drum is apparently a challenge. The cracked drum generated a vibration, which took out some of the drive mechanism. The warranty period is two years and the cost of repairs is about $600, including two visits.]

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Department of Understatement: Bill Gates and Jeffrey Epstein

From “Bill Gates Met With Jeffrey Epstein Many Times, Despite His Past” (NYT):

His lifestyle is very different and kind of intriguing although it would not work for me,” Mr. Gates emailed colleagues in 2011, after his first get-together with Mr. Epstein.

Almost as good as The Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook:

Today I made a Black Forest cake out of five pounds of cherries and a live beaver, challenging the very definition of the word “cake.” I was very pleased. Malraux said he admired it greatly, but could not stay for dessert. Still, I feel that this may be my most profound achievement yet, and have resolved to enter it in the Betty Crocker Bake-Off.

Also in the article…

Mr. Gates, in turn, praised Mr. Epstein’s charm and intelligence. Emailing colleagues the next day, he said: “A very attractive Swedish woman and her daughter dropped by and I ended up staying there quite late.”


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