I love language. Irrationally, actually. There’s nothing that I like more than discovering new slang, or a new turn of phrase, or a word that I didn’t know existed, or making a word out of two other words. I find the English language a beautiful, beautiful thing.
I try to be precise with it. I mean, sure, I slang it up. Who doesn’t? You don’t want to sound like a robot-person, or a person who still calls the fridge the icebox. I also love to add “y” to the end of things where it doesn’t belong, like “cringey” and “stabby” because it entertains me, and you can do that, with English. It is a very generous and giving language, overall. I can see how it would be hard for non-English speakers to learn, though. People who grew up with the language still have problems with it, and they’ve never spoken anything else. We don’t make it easy on others. It’s our can-do pioneer attitude. We have the hardest language! We are a super-cool impenetrable club!
I read a lot, so a lot of words I only recognize on the page, and have no idea how to pronounce in real-life situations. (I love that the dictionary online pronounced words for you. I made it repeat the word “kudzu” over and over when I was reading a Poppy Z. Brite book a few years back because the word was like carbonation against your eardrum. So peppy and poppy and fizzy!) I also am old, and, despite how I come across, somewhat naive in the millions of ways people can be pervy, so often, double-entendres get lost on me. (Last week, I had no idea what I was implying when I said someone could “take me anywhere, because I would be the most fun to take anywhere.” I wasn’t thinking of the “take me, take me now” definition. I know. I need to get out of the petticoat generation, already.)
Last weekend, I was visiting family, and we were getting ready to go somewhere. I hadn’t yet prepared to leave the house – it wasn’t that long ago I had been awakened by the dulcet tones of The Nephew screaming to the top of his adorable little lungs at 6 a.m. – so I said, and I quote, “Give me a few minutes to get ready. I can’t go anywhere like this. I look like I’ve been rode hard and put away wet right now.”
Dead silence from the people (my brother, his girlfriend, my father) in the room.
The following conversation ensued:
Brother: Amy, you can’t say that.
Me: What? Why?
Brother: Because that’s about whores.
Me: What? No. HORSES.
GF: No. He’s right. Whores.
Father: Yes. Whores. How do you not know that? You always know these things.
Me: No, horses. And also if you look like you’re jacked up and need to get prettied.
Brother: No. Whores. You know, they were RODE HARD. Then PUT AWAY WET.
Me: Oh. Um. Um – I. No, I think horses? Because when people call the vet clinic when I’m working at the answering service, sometimes they talk about problems with their horses, and one of them I’m pretty sure has to do with not drying off your horse correctly.
GF: This is the best conversation ever. I love this.
Brother: Whores are RODE HARD. Then they are WET.
Me: Yeah, if you are perverted.
Father: Or normal.
(Note – I am not sure how to take my father saying “I always know about these things.” I hope he meant idiomatic phrases and the joys of the English language and not whore lingo. WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THIS DADDY.)
After this, I was a little distressed. I mean, I don’t use this phrase on a regular basis – it’s not something I say as often as “Nice day, right?” or “Someone took all the goddamned letterhead out of the copier AGAIN? Are they building a FORT with that stuff? What the HELL?” but I’ve said it on a number of occasions. Did everyone I was ever saying this to think I was calling myself a whore? Did they laugh about this behind my back, that I wasn’t aware of the genesis of this idiom? Was this about whores? If so, why did people in cowboy novels use it to refer to their horses, and then why did crappy gossip blogs use it to talk about oh, I don’t know, Courtney Love? (Sorry, Courtney. I still adore you, Courtney.)
So, as I do, I did research, and then a very scientific poll. I know! I really should open up some sort of super-sexy serious research facility.
And this time, I made a PIE CHART. I come bearing PROFESSIONAL GRAPHICS. From a FREE WEBSITE THAT MAKES THESE THINGS. (I am fairly sure no one ever typed “whores” into the free site. It kept asking me if that was spelled right.)
Responses to “What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase ‘rode hard, put away wet’?”
OK, so let’s analyze these responses. As you can see, the majority of people (not by much, but still) think horses. Not WHORES. Horses. This made me feel better.
Some interesting things I learned while doing this very scientific poll:
- The “your mom” person made me laugh so hard I spit-took diet lemonade.
- My book club was mostly horse people. My theater cast and crew was mostly whore people. Do what you will with that.
- One person told me I should, in the interest of science, put an ad on Craig’s List for responses. I don’t think anything I put on Craig’s List about “riding” or “wet” would end well. I opted no on that one.
- I was not comfortable asking this on my Facebook page. I think because my Facebook people would not respect my very scientific endeavors. Twitter people are more scientific; Facebook people are more “I used Status Shuffle because I can’t come up with a status on my own.” Also my theater people were a captive audience – I’m their assistant director, what are they going to do, tell me to shut it? I could make them run laps for that. OK, not laps. The theatrical equivalent of laps. I could make them play theater games for that, like improv or mirror exercises.
The best response I got was from a very educated man I work with at the theater. He’s one of those quiet and gruff people that nonetheless have complete and total authority when they speak. “It’s from cowboy slang,” he said. “It may have been recently bastardized to refer to something sexual, but originally, it referred to how it was unhealthy to ride a horse and then not cool it and dry it off before putting it in for the night.”
Suck it, haters! It is NOT ONLY ABOUT WHORES. I also did research using my BFF, Google, who agrees with me – yes, sure, it now is used (as I did) to refer to someone who looks like they had a tough night of it and needs some freshening-up time, but originally it was used to refer to HORSES. Not WHORES. Not EXCLUSIVELY WHORES.
What we learned from this is that I have a metric shit-ton of free time on my hands and don’t like my usage of the English language challenged.
Horses. HORSES. And Tara Reid that time her boob popped out and she didn’t realize it.