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Article Archive >> Community

Reflections: I'm still asking why?

Reflections
I'm still asking why?
By William L. Bulla

Over the past year, I have written two columns dealing with the question "Why?" There are so many "whys" in our lives. Everyday we see things, or hear statements, that we ask ourselves or others "why?" Just when you think you have heard them all, other "whys" happen to come along.
A young schoolboy recently asked me, "Why is it when you deliver something by car it is called a "shipment", but if it goes by ship, it is called "cargo?" How do you answer that?
Why do we say something is "out of whack?" What is "whack?"
Why does the term "slow-up" and "slow-down" mean the same thing?
Why does the expression "fat-chance" and "slim-chance" mean the same thing? Why do people say "after dark" when it is actually "after light?" Why are seating areas at the ballpark called "stands?"
There are many similar questions that may not use the word "why", but also cause a bit of bewilderment. These are those that start with "If". If "all the world is a stage", where is the audience sitting? If a word were misspelled in a dictionary, how would we ever know? If you are in a vehicle traveling at the speed of light, what happens if you turn on the headlights?
Why do we call it a TV set, when we only have one? Why do tug boats push barges? Why do we park in a driveway, and drive on a parkway? Why are barns painted red? Why did the three little pigs leave home? Why do we say, "Bless you" after someone sneezes? Why is a bottle opener called a "church key"? Why is a TV called a "boob tube"? Why are left-handed persons called "south-paws"?
Why is bologna pronounced baloney? Why are stairs referred to as a "flight of stairs"? Why is a breakfast cereal that contains neither grapes nor nuts named Grape Nuts? Why do we say, "Pardon my French" when we say a curse word? Why is it called a pair of scissors when it is a single instrument? Why do people say, "cats have nine lives"? If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score? Why is the end piece of a loaf of bread called a "heel"? Why is money often called "hard cold cash"? Why do people say "there are no more fish in the sea"? Why is the "proof in the pudding"? Why is the word "pounds" abbreviated "lbs"? Why is a pimple or reddish mark on the skin called a "hickey"? Why do they say, "It's not over 'til the fat-lady sings"? Why are first-place ribbons blue? Why is a bill at a restaurant called a "check"? Why do we refer to the hole in the road as a "pot hole"?
Why ask why? Well, if we don't, we will never find out about anything!
We would probably never know why the woodchuck wanted to chuck wood, or why a pair of pants is called a pair when it is only a single item.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.

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