A Line in the Sand

Dammit. I’m adding a little note here to deal with something that I have had just about enough of…

I’m doing it.

I’m doing it…


Oh wait…

I am tired of hearing/seeing the expression “drawing a line in the sand.” I hate, hate, hate this expression. It comes form a corny speech by G.H.W. Bush and it’s just deplorable. The expression is a cute adaptation of the fine old southern saying, “to draw a line in the DUST.” You can add a “y’all” in there if you feel it.

This expression means something like “draw the line”– another healthy, old-fashioned saying from people who knew what-was-what. It also resembles “scratch a line in the dirt,” but the “dirt” reference means something more childish and less adult. Kids “scratch a line in the dirt” to pick a fight (“I dare ya ta cross it! Step over that line, ya chicken!”)

Adults “draw a line in the dust” but it’s still a bit juvenile. To “draw the line” is to set a boundary, as we say today in therapy, etc. We “draw the line” at whatever-the-hell it was that Meatloaf wouldn’t do (I think it was say “I don’t love you”).

All kinds of cool variations on this saying once existed. The grand-daddy was “draw a line in the dust” but you could have Willy Wonka draw a line in the sugar, you could have have Liz Taylor draw a line in the jewels, or, even have some middle-eastern dictator draw a line “in the sand.”

Cute, huh?

But once his majesty George had his speech-writer say “draw a line in the sand” then every news reporter on the planet suddenly forgot their lunch and thought that THIS cutesy expression was the original. They all parrot it incessantly, and it makes them sound like boot-licking toadies, and it’s hard to sound like a hard-nosed, objective journalist while your fondness for Presidential Speak had you crawling on your belly and wagging your tail.

This is the way the world ends. The old-but-solid expression “draw a line in the dust” is forgotten in one hammer-blow, as modernity sticks its head in the fridge and chomps the pizza.

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