Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Making Ends Meat

I'm going to give you guys some free advice: Do not spend the day listening to old songs that remind you of your exes and then spend the evening reading people's wedding stories. Your dreams will be all kinds of crazy.

Now, as promised, I need to explain to you a little something. It is called "Making ends meat."

When you don't have a lot of money, you still need to buy food. So you go to the butcher with your pennies and you say, "What can I get with this?" The butcher chops off the ends of the salami, maybe gives you the gristly sides of some chicken. The green edges of the beef. Because that's all you can afford. You are making ends meat. We all know this saying. It makes perfect sense.

Imagine, then, me. Circa college. COLLEGE. I am in someone's office, discussing this and that. I look down and notice a book sitting on a pile on the floor. It is blue. There is a man in a suit with his arms crossed. And the title: "Making ends meet."


I go on as usual, pretending that the wheels in my head are not slowly cranking. "Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm. Yes, I see." But in my head, I'm going "WHAT IN GOD'S NAME IS GOING ON?! MEET?! MAKING ENDS MEET?! WHAT ENDS? WHERE? HOW?"

I rushed home to my parents.

"Mother. Tell me right now. How. Do you spell. "Making ends meat"?

"M-a-k-i-n-g (space) e-n-d-s (space) m-e-e-t." She told me calmly. My face dropped. "Oh, Emily. It hasn't happened again, has it?

Yes, that's right. This situation is not uncommon to my life. It happens so often, in fact, that Michelle and I have dubbed it "having our world turned upside down." (It happens to her a lot, too.) The most traumatizing example of this was during my freshman year of high school when I got in a very heated discussion with Kim about the meaning of "having your work cut out for you."

I argued: well, it's been cut out for you. It's simple. It's almost done. It'll be easy, a breeze.

She argued...frankly, she argued the correct usage of the phrase. I had gone 15 years of my life misunderstanding a common English idiom. Oh, and not JUST misunderstanding it, but thinking it meant THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF WHAT IT ACTUALLY MEANS. Then there were of course the countless songs I have had explained to me over the years. Bopper Ann? It's not BOPPER ANN. Niether is it "She's my little two scoop, you know what I got."

And now in college, it happened again. But this time, I would not be pushed into a corner of idiocy. I went around to everyone I knew and I asked them how to spell the phrase. And what I discovered was this: I was not alone.

My friend, Kevin M, had the best reaction. When I told him it was "meet", his jaw dropped. He spent some time trying to convince the rest of our friends that it was "meat" and then ended it by backing out the door while pointing at everyone, yelling, "SCREW YOU! SCREW ALLLLLL OF YOUUUUUUU!"

There are a lot of people in the world who believe the phrase is "Making ends meat." In fact, I even started a DJ radio argument a few years later about it. They were asking for people to call or write in if they had "just discovered something." (The DJ had just found out you don't have to write www. before you search something. Child's play.) So I emailed in about my situation, and it turns out, the traffic girl also thought it was "meat." Then they asked people to call and weigh in on the subject and guess what? LOTS of people think that it's "meat." Adults. Grown, smart, useful adults.

Here is the thing: both phrases, in my mind, make just as much/just as little sense.

On the one hand, you have no money to make the ends of cloths meet to sew clothing.
On the other hand, you have no money to afford the good cuts of beef.

Therefore, I will concede and spell it "meet" from now on, as long as you recognize that it wasn't THAT stupid for me to have believed it to be "meat" for two decades. And to all those who scoff me and my meat/meet fiasco, I simply say good day to you.

I also have a few other phrases I want to throw out there for discussion, and perhaps to turn your world upside down like mine has been:

Did you know the word is "ulterior"? Ulterior motives. Not alterior, as I thought. You know how I leaned this? From a Sunday comic strip. THAT was a new low.

And two that I actually DID get right growing up:
1) The phrase is "all of a sudden." It is NOT "all the sudden." Neither make sense, I know. However, one is wrong.
2) Flesh it out. Flush it out. These are two different phrases. To flush something out means to reveal something that is concealed, like flushing something from its hiding place. But if you've gotta develop a plan. An outline. A genius idea. You flesh it out. FLESH.

So what else is out there? What have you learned slightly too late? I'm sure everyone's got one. Don't make me feel like a huge, lonely loser. Let's hear them in the comments!


Anonymous said...

I was in my 30s when I learned it's espresso, not expresso

Carmen said...

I've been saying "alterior" instead of "ulterior"...ooops.
I've never heard or seen anyone use "all the sudden", so you're definitely a lonely losery loser for that one.
Here's a new one: Ryan, his brother, and their mother all thought "wallering" was a word until I explained to them that what they probably meant was "wallowing"

Hannah said...

"Supposedly. Supposebly. Did she go to the Zoo? Supposedly"

I had this line MEMORIZED from Friends since the age of, oh lets say, 9. And yet! I made no connections that he was referring to the fact that these are two different words and the second one is NOT, in fact, a real word.

Emily said...

No, Carmen! It's not me who thinks it's "all the sudden." It is other people. I even saw it in a subway ad for Windows 7 a few weeks ago.

Michelle said...

What is "She's my little two scoop, you know what I got." supposed to be?
I think I say "all of the sudden"; I guess I combine them.
I just had one the other day - I can't think of it...I'm sure I'll have another belief system pulled out from under me...yet another flying out the window. :)

Emily said...

Two scoop, duh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXFFLuoaMzM

Kristin said...

Similar to your "she's my little two scoop" revelation ...

I grew up hearing Chevy commercials on TV, being fully convinced all the while that they were singing "lack 'er up" instead of "like a rock." No, it didn't make sense. But when my mom/dad corrected me at the tender age of six, my mind was blown.

Also, I have a friend from college who uses "subbosebly" ALL THE TIME. We corrected her at a bachlorette party this past summer, and it's now become an ongoing joke.

Lack 'er up!

Kim said...

I do believe a Friends episode started the "cut out for your\" debate. Then we had to get another opinion on bombarded our algebra teacher with her thoughts. haha.

And I think your ulterior vs alterior is just because some people don't know how to properly pronounce words. :)

Laura said...

W.T.T.W = the channel slogan acronym: Window To The World. Didn't realize it until I was about 18. And I had lived in Chicago for approximately 10 years of that 18.

"Bathroom on the right" versus "Bad moon on the rise." I think I realized it wasn't really bathroom by the age of 7, but I still said "Bad moon on the right well into my teens."

Today I had to look up manner and manor. Today. I'm an adult...with a professional job...where they pay me...and I had to look those words up.

Laura said...


I just Googled "commonly misused phrases." Umm...ok...so...get ready...

"For all intensive purposes..." is completely wrong. I don't know about you, but I had ZERO idea that that was wrong. I mean, now that I think about it it makes no sense. It is supposed to be: "For all intents and purposes." Swear to god. Look it up. I can't...errr...I can never make fun of you again, Emily.

Abbey said...

"Nip it in the butt" lovers represent! Wow, I was crushed to find out I was wrong about this.

Two other things, after your comment on my blog I was hoping you would blog about this. Your logic makes sense to me.

Also, I love that episode of Friends. It was also the first thing I thought of.

Oh! I suppose a third thing. Often. Is the T silent? Offen? Off-ten? I lose friends over this debate.

Michelle said...

Wait, "for all intensive purposes" is wrong?!!! WHAT!!! Who's making these rules!? VE-TO that!!!
AND, I thought it was "nip it in the butt" too - my mom had to go squash that belief. Rough life man.

Emily said...

Wow, really you two? Really?? Intensive purposes? I can't believe we've spent so much time as best friends and I've never noticed this and lovingly corrected you.

And Abbey, I can see how one might lose friends over such a fiasco, but "often" has a silent T in the same way that Roosevelt rhymes with "hose of felt."

Adrienne said...

what laura said:
i still mess that up.

intensive purposes MAKES SENSE, dammit.

Adrienne said...

i am double commenting!

my mom says "fustrated" instead of "fRustrated" and i correct her every time.

paulina the street and paulina the name: aren't the same
i don't know how to say honore. i don't pretend to. like really, what?

Rah said...

Hold me closer Tony Danza - how did we miss that?! Unless, I just missed it....