Friday, April 3, 2009

Hey, What Was That Again?

For weeks after it came out, I had been sort of driving along when I heard the new Ne-Yo song "Mad" come on the radio and mumble along with the chorus about his not wanting to go to Maine.

I know sometimes it's gonna rain/
And baby can we make up now 'cause I can't sleep through the pain/
Girl I don't want to go to Maine/ (Not at you)
And I don't want you to to Maine/ (Not at me)

Finally, it dawned on me that unless he had some terrible grudge against our friendly neighbor to the northeast, this couldn't possibly be the right lyric...and as someone whose work occasionally takes him to Portsmouth, even I know about the great shopping in Kittery and the beautiful seacoast up 1A. Either way, fast forward the video to 1:24 to hear the song chorus that could reverse all the good work the vacation sloganeers in Augusta have been doing for years.

I looked up the lyrics and suddenly everything shined in a new light -- he was saying he didn't want to bed mad at you and vice versa. So I had that sinking feeling I got when I realized David Archuleta wasn't saying "All that we could be/with a stick of gum" in "Crush" or when my eight year-old self faced the reality that rocking out to Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Band-Aid" was, well, just wrong. And silly.

Still, I was amazed yesterday morning when someone in the gym asked me if a particular piece of exercise equipment was worth wild. That's pretty bad. At least in that case, you could see that one spelled out somewhere and register the right way to use it.

Here are a few other real-life examples of "mishears" from the recent past:

Rushing Roulette. "I can't believe any of you would even THINK about driving drunk. It's like, everytime you do that, you might as well be out playing rushing roulette with everyone else's life." (Yes, the 'g' was clearly emphasized).

Starch Rivals. "He went to Nobles? My son went to Milton, and they're our starch rivals!"

Self of Steam. Back when I taught 9th grade World History at the other end of Middlesex County, I had a student write in her Do Now Journal about why it's important to have a high "self of steam." Not too bad, really -- kind of makes sense if you think about it.

All Intensive Purposes. This is quite a common one, and I have to enter a guilty plea here to not *getting* this until I saw it in print.

Mute Point. "Well, there's no sense in even arguing this one, since it's a mute point." Like all the others above, you can see how this one kind of seems like it could kinda sorta make sense.

This last one is of a different nature, because it's not a mishear but a misuse. Still, if you knew how often I've heard it (including two hours ago)...

"I just went onto a submarine for the first time ever, and wow...those things are pretty claustrophobic."

Unless the submarine suddenly finds the ability to miss its mother, worry about its waistline, and wonder why kids today can't be polite the way it once was, it's never going to be claustrophobic, either. A steel tube has no feelings.

Thanks for reading! If you have any other good examples of common misheard expressions or song lyrics I would love to see them...


kad barma said...

The classic of my trailing-boomer generation was John Fogerty singing about the "bathroom on the right" in Bad Moon Rising. (Not even the title of the song was enough of a hint).

C R Krieger said...

This is so true. And it can happen to all of us, and probably has.

I think I was in 11th grade before someone explained to me that it was "Lambs eat oats and does it oats and a kid will eat ivy too," and not "Lamse doats and doese doats and kiddly divey two."  That was embarrasing.  With my hearing and today's lyrics, I stick with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly.

Regards  —  Cliff

The New Englander said...


Thanks very much for those additions! If I come across more of the everyday "mishears" I'll do another post on the subject..

And as for Fogerty, the man is a one-man fount of mishears and overall's like, if you can tell me what dinosaurs with victrolas listening to Buck Owens has to do with anything, I ought to be tipping my cap towards you in the street..


James said...

"Cease and assist" or "cease and desist" ?

According to wikipedia a "A cease and desist (also called C & D) is an order or request to halt an activity, or else face legal action."

I had that wrong and someone in the office I work thought the same. Oops.