To a man with a hammer…..

   For a long time now, I’ve been trying to coin a phrase.  This is not as easy as it sounds.  First of all, most of the good ones are taken.  On top of that, it requires a lot of cooperation from people who owe me nothing.  I started out with greater ambitions, wanting to create an adage or aphorism that was so apt and pithy-a mot juste  (there’s one of those French expressions I had promised) that  I couldn’t help but come across it in the New Yorker.  It became clear to me early on that I was biting off more than I can chew.  I’ve since lowered my sights and am now   just aiming for a simple term or phrase to call my own.

    One of my favorite and most used sayings is, “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.  I love its rhythm and the way the sentence is inverted.  I often find it the perfect way to get across the notion that we come to most situations with a predisposition.  We can be selective and biased with the information we allow to form our opinion.  In a way we  already have a conclusion and will let in only evidence that supports it.  I know, I know…I’m ‘beating a dead horse’ here (boy, I wish I had coined that one).  Anyway, when I still harbored a hope of creating my own aphorism, I co-opted this expression by personalizing it:   “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a Neil.”   I tried this out for a while.  Since it makes no sense whatsoever, it never caught on.

     My latest attempt at phrase-coining has met with some resistance.  Each time I describe a toss-up situation as being “nine of one, three-quarters of a dozen of another”, I’m met with a quizzical look.  As if there’s a more flowing, sonorous way to say it.   To me, that’s just further proof that there’s some real resistance to accepting a new expression.  But I’m not discouraged.  It’s my ‘cross to bear’….or as I like to say, my ‘Star of David’ to schlep.

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4 Responses to “To a man with a hammer…..”

  1. janice Says:

    …here’s another ‘to a man with a newsspaper everything looks like news’ and that man will be getting his own newspaper until the end of the month…(am leaving for Israel tomorrow – where we read right to left …) take care and keep on blogging.

  2. ed Says:

    Who coined, “The faintest of ink is better than the clearest of memory” ?

  3. Richard Says:

    See how this flies:

    “It’s crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide.”

  4. Scooter Pile « Ironicman's Blog Says:

    […] person to make grapefruit  juice from grapefruits (check your blog history for coining a phrase: https://ironicman.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/to-a-man-with-a-hammer/) but I do try to learn from these kind of events.  If nothing else, this has taught me that […]

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