My semantic sensibilities are seriously attuned to misuses of metaphors, especially when speakers mistakenly mix them.
This can be a problem for me since my knowledge of current events comes mainly through ESPN’s range of programming. I tune in at various points throughout the day to catch up on what really matters in the world. I wince, however, at every misspelling in the newsfeed at the bottom of the screen and groan at every grammatical gaffe.
Though some do exist, verbally dextrous sportswriters and television analysts are few and far between. On a morning program, I recently heard reference made to someone throwing a monkey wrench into the equation.
I laughed at that one and thought immediately of Sammy Sosa’s mixture of congratulatory metaphors. Near the end of the medically enhanced home run race of 1998, Sosa said of his awe at Mark McGwire that all he could do was take off his hat and hand it to him.
Perhaps the most abused metaphor involves my favorite dessert—pudding. There are few puddings I don’t like. My favorites are butterscotch and chocolate, and my mom makes an amazing rice pudding.
The common offense occurs when one states that “the proof is in the pudding.” It isn’t. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. That is, one confirms the quality of the pudding by eating it.
I recently was sent over the edge, puddin’-wise, by a basketball analyst. He stated that the Miami Heat are “going to have to dig into the pudding to find the proof.”
One does not dig into a pudding, scavenging around in search for proof. Proof of what? There’s no need to ruin a perfectly good pudding and make a mess of things. Simply eat the pudding to determine its quality.
Mind your metaphors, friends. Pudding is for eating. Therein is its proof.