Mixed(up) Metaphors


I’m hooked on British mysteries. It started with the great Agatha Christie many, many years ago. I even hear the English lilt and accents in my head as I read.

The British idioms and adages have apparently seeped into my own. Just not always in the right way.  I get the meaning but the nuances frequently elude me.

For example, I know what a one-off is in British terms. It means something that will happen only one time.  As in: “That murder was a one-off. We don’t have a serial killer on our hands here.”

And so, when dear friends, whom we hadn’t seen for a while, nicely and considerately, asked about my breast cancer and mastectomy of  a couple of years ago, I replied, a bit sassily, that I appreciated their concern but not to worry.  That it was just a one-off.

Conversation stopped. Eyebrows went up. I got strange looks.  And then, like the baby who gets a shot but takes two seconds to realize what happened, I understood.  I got it.  I knew what I meant but my audience heard something else entirely.  We laughed our way through the misunderstanding.  And then we laughed some more.

I suggested that they read British mysteries.  They suggested I stick to my native language.

Those laughs were definitely not one-offs.  They’ll continue until we can’t.

Image of new British thrillers thanks to crimeread.com