Idiom idiocy

When you work in the performing arts, you end up changing your cloths a lot. I guess its the same for people in sports but most sports facilities have clearly defined dressing rooms etc. In theatre and dance a lot of times you find yourself (and others) changing in hallways and bathrooms and lobbies of studios etc. Its just not a big deal, and although there is reasonable measure of modesty, there is a certain looseness about this which is, I think, pretty darn healthy.

So I was very very surprised to see this sign in a bathroom at the Playwrights Horizon’s Theatre School.

Now I’m going to stay away from commenting on this jaunty, whimsical character who in other signs is seen admonishing us to “Do the ‘quiet in the hall’ thing!”. Let’s just say that I’m not a fan.

My problem with this sign is two-fold. First off, I think it’s actually a bit unreasonable to ask people to use stalls to change. My history teacher in high school, Paul Scott, taught me that you can tell what was going on in a society by looking at what laws they had. So I have to assume that there was enough changing going on in these bathrooms to make this policy necessary. However, forcing people into stalls seems unseemly on a number of levels.

And this leads to the bigger problem I have with it. The idiom “Caught with your pants down” means being caught doing something worthy of guilt. Obviously the origin of this is adultery. I know there are a range of attitudes about this kind of thing, but changing one’s cloths is not a bad thing. I mean modesty is modesty, but this IS a theatre school. And to even imply that there is something shameful about changing cloths is a “thing that makes me go hmmmm.” And I know the point here is to “Do the ‘clever with words on signs’ thing” but, again, this is a theatre school. I would think that textual analysis would have a role here.

So what is being said here is that changing your cloths is a dirty, stinky activity that you should feel guilty about. Another victory for the forces that seek to denigrate the body. And at a theatre school… nice!

And yes, I’m making a mountain out of a mole-hill here, but I am fascinated by idioms and am amazed at how easily mangled they become. For example: “The proof is in the pudding.” This makes no sense. The proof is NOT in the pudding. The correct idiom is “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” which actually makes sense.


…stay tuned!

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