I had a thought about #Halloween and #TrickorTreating a few years ago that changed how I felt about the event (and more).
Some kids from up the road came to our door and, quite sweetly, ‘threatened’ us by saying trick or treat. And it suddenly hit me: shouldn’t it be ‘treat or trick’?
Because that’s the logic of it, right? They are giving the householders an option. Treat them or get tricked. Indeed, it might help to think of them not as children, but as 1930s gangsters running a protection racket. ‘Youse, ah, youse gonna treat us or youse, ah, gonna get tricked?’
In turn, that got me thinking about other weird phrases, things we say all the time but don’t really examine.
The proof is in the pudding
What pudding? Why is there proof in there? I’m imagining some peculiar episode of Miss Marple where she scoops up a handful of trifle and holds it aloft triumphantly, then flings it at the murderer.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too
World’s worst birthday party: you bring out a multi-tiered candled and candied marvel in honour of your grandmother’s 101st birthday… And then you take it away.
All mouth and no trousers
Does anyone know what this means? It sounds like something a parent would say to a toddler after being presented with a drawing. ‘Oh that’s lovely Chloe. But why did you draw daddy as all mouth and no trousers?’
I’m not hanging noodles on your ears
Thankfully these peculiarities aren’t limited to English. Every culture has its own idioms – who could forget the wonderful Russian equivalent of ‘I’m not pulling your leg’?
Whether you Trick or Treat or Treat or Trick, and whatever peculiar phrases you use, here’s hoping everyone has a weird, wonderful, trick-free and treat-filled Halloween!