Letting The Cat Out Of The Oven

We the English speakers of the world have an unprecedented love for playing with our language.  The reasons why are somewhat unclear, yet we delight in in-jokes and perhaps even enjoy confusing visitors from foreign shores.  The most puzzling fact is that in general, we like to promote our respective nations as liberal places of acceptance and kindness yet linguistically we like to make peculiar comments about cats.

What I am referring to are idioms relating to cats, some are borderline cases of promoting animal abuse, others are just bizarre.  What is an indisputable fact is that idioms differ widely in different languages so in many cases when you use an idiom in conversation with someone from a different nation they may not understand, which leaves you with two choices.  Either you explain the right meaning or…

What’s the matter has the cat got your tongue?  Quite possibly the stupidest of all feline related idioms used when the speaker wishes to highlight the other person’s silence.  Now if the cat had actually got my tongue I would, in all honesty, be rolling around on the floor screaming as the cat hisses and rips tiny morsels of flesh from my tongue with its razor-like claws.

Well, that let the cat out of the bag!  In this case, we are highlighting the fact that someone has publicised a secret.  Now I don’t know if any of my readers have ever put a cat in a bag, however, if any of you have, you will have noted that the cat tends to panic, and makes quite a lot of noise.  So much noise that they are almost impossible to keep secret, especially when you are travelling on the number 12 bus to the river in the early afternoon.

There’s not enough room to swing a cat.  Often we use this in a mock-ironic manner.  As in most cases, there is actually enough room to swing a cat.  I can recall trying to explain to a Bulgarian friend that ‘swinging a cat’ is a traditional British room measurement.  Sometimes I wonder if it perhaps took off in Bulgarian real estate.

There are many ways to skin a cat.  Of course referring to the numerous methods of completing a task, not a fact of science.  It’s clearly disputable.  There are many utensils you can use however there surely aren’t a wide variety of methods.  I remember one student asking me ‘But Scott, why would you want to skin a cat?’  The only correct answer was that British shamans have to look at cats entrails and not chickens entrails to see the future.

I doubt this post will put the cat amongst the pigeons, nor should it as that is blatantly cruel, nor should it encourage people to fight like cat and dog, nor should it encourage curiosity, as we all know it was curiosity that killed the cat and not us putting it in a bag, swinging it or skinning it.

What Doesn’t Kill You Only Makes You Stronger

If the above statement was true I would be Mr Universe.  However it is not and I am not.  It’s shitty world we live in when the only comforting words we can ever find for troubled people are meaningless idioms and metaphors.  As a race, when did we suddenly lose the ability to be sympathetic or understanding.  I have heard my fair share, and of course at appropriate times I have found myself  participating in this bullshit pass the parcel system of comfort.  And you know what?  I have learnt two things.  The first is that it doesn’t actually help.  And the second is that it doesn’t actually help.

The human mind was never built to compartmentalise.  It is not a natural function.  Yet in the vast majority of societies it’s what we are expected to do.  It defies belief.  If you divide the circle of emotions into two groups, honest and dishonest you can instantly discover what a lying bunch of hypocrites we are.  In the honest group we could put anger.  Anger very often makes us speak our mind.  Sadness or melancholy too.  Frustration.  Disappointment.  And many others.  The truth of the matter is that we are discouraged in our efforts to be honest.  It is no longer necessary in society.  It is better you stay silent and not cause a scene, or get yourself fired or some other equally deserving punishment for someone who tries to say it how they see it.

By choosing the kind of life where you have to withdraw and bottle reality up you are rejecting humanity.  The joy of this life comes from the fact that we are alive.  What separates us from animals is the fact that we have this wonderful range of emotions and when we do not accept them we are rejecting the fact that we are really alive.  So say it loud, and say it proud just say whats on your fucking mind.