Friday, January 27, 2006

Sick as a Dog

A Frivolous Phraseology Post

I'm home today, blowing my nose every five minutes, throat like a rain gutter, with a dull ache in my jaw that is either my wisdom teeth reallocating their living space or the result of my going head-to-head with an opposing player when I played rugby last Sunday.

I'm sitting back now, appreciating the diversity of that last sentence. It's confusing, it's awful, I hope you were able to get through it. But I'm too attached to it now to change it.

I've been wondering about the traditional phrase, 'sick as a dog.' I'’m not sure I get it. Other phrases seem like they would be more appropriate to describe my condition. In fact, most of the dogs I have known were remarkably healthy.

Why not 'sick as an aquarium fish?' Or '“sick as a water turtle?' It seems like aquarium fish are not especially predisposed to life. They'’re just as likely to be floating upside down as right side up when you turn on the light in the morning. Water turtles are similar. They're ridiculously picky about what they eat, and seem very willing to become dormant and taciturn if you don't feed them just what they want.

If we expand the parameters outside the traditional pet' sector, why not 'sick as a seal?' They always seem to have wet, runny noses. Or (gross!) 'sick as a slug?'” If facsimile is what we're after, it seems like honesty would bring us here.

Anyway. Now that I'’ve complained for a little while, I'm going to continue beating up Bertrand Russell'’s essay, "A Free Man's Worship." In the universe Russell describes, his title itself is a non sequitur. I know you're not supposed to pick on dead people, but I have to do it for class. And I'’m sick - sick as a dog. Therefore, 'sicking' myself on Russell should be completely permissible.

When a sick guy meets a dead guy, the sick guy wins.

2 Comments:

Blogger martin said...

At the risk of becoming a little, well, tasteless, I think the phrase relates to being sick (vomiting) rather than feeling unwell. Brewer also suggests 'sick as a cat', which I hadn't heard: he provides no source, although notes Bibilical use of a dog 'returning to his vomit'. Of course, domestic carnivores are notorious for being emphatically sick in inappropriate places, and I would guess the phrase has its origin in being ostentatiously, unrepentantly and noisily sick. On a related note, I like the recent usage 'man-flu' for the sort of mild cold and fever which brings men to their knees.

6:06 AM  
Anonymous momma2theMax said...

Man-flu huh....i can dig it....as the mom of 4 i often wish that the mantra, of said mom in winter, was not "mom's aren't allowed to get Sick". Alas, i watch in complete envy of my Darling Husband as he languishes in bed, for 2 or 3 days with, what MUST be a far worse strain of, the virus i had "lived with" (read: lived my life, without so much as skippng a beat, even though feeling lousy) the week prior for 18 hours.....what i wouldn't give for a sick day....

10:54 AM  

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