I’M JUST CURIOUS: Misconceptions

by Debbie Walker

I am still learning as the years go by that some sayings aren’t at all what the speaker believes they are conveying. My first example is all the use of the term WOP. All the years I have heard people refer to Italian descent in that manner I was really surprised when I learned what the true meaning may be.

As hurtful as three little letters have been over the years, it just proves people accept things as true and are just misinformed.

One explanation has been when Italians came by ship to this country, some came with papers, some without. Tags may have been worn, the letters WOP on them. Without papers, very simply and not at all insulting. It just made unloading passengers easier. People with papers would have left first and then the others. Insulating? I really don’t think so.

And then… I have read even that may be a misconception. In further reading these three little letters, WOP, are also associated with at least 23 other uses. Look them up online and you be the judge.

Another saying people generally don’t know the original meaning of is, “It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey”. It’s origin comes from putting iron cannon balls on a dimpled brass plate on the deck of a war ship. The brass contracts sufficiently to cause the iron balls to fall off. The brass tray called a “monkey” was used on warships in the 16th to 18th centuries. So much for misconceptions. It had nothing to do with any monkey’s body parts.

This next on is just a word I heard years ago and everyone seems to believe it to be a body part. I was reminded of it twice in one week after not having heard it for years. I was watching a show on HGTV (home improvement channel). Ben was making some seats for a swing using a whiskey barrel. He spoke of having to keep the “bunghole” in mind while separating barrel pieces. Did you know it is a hole in a barrel filled with a bung (cork)? I understand it is essential for the liquor barrels. I also heard it used on a game show last night and the guy got it wrong!

I am sorry if I made anyone flinch or insulted my open abuse of these words or terms. Remember this is my idea and not to reflect on in any way, please. If you know of other misconceptions, would you share with me?

We made a discovery, my daughter and I. We were talking about some old times and differences from then ‘til now. Talk of the phones was one of the chuckles we had. My granddaughter was there, also. I said something about the change we experienced with phones. My granddaughter does not remember when we had the house phones and were charged for the long distance minutes. We had some laughs over that one. I wonder what else there is?

I am just curious the little odd things you notice these days. Contact me at DebbieWalker@townline.org. Thank you for reading and I hope you have a great week.


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