Let me get one thing straight right off the bat. I am a very superstitious person. Actually, let me get two things straight right off the bat. Besides being superstitious, I also tend to completely mangle song lyrics and sayings. For instance, instead of saying “the train has left the station” I will say the train has left the building or the plane has left the station. Some find that to be a very charming bit of mine. Others think that means I’m a bit loopy. Either way it completely disarms people and works to my advantage in many instances. But that is way besides the point of this little narrative here today.
I have heard before the phrase how do you like them apples? But I have never thought about what it means. I have heard the phrase used in very old, silly comedy shows and have not really processed its meaning. Do you find yourself doing that as well? Do you find yourself hearing certain phrases and just taking them for granted but not fully exploring them? I’m sure many of us do this all the time. This can be annoying in the workplace when people don’t ask for clarification, but that is way besides the point of this little narrative here today.
I started thinking about this phrase this week when day after day I kept dropping my apples. It became quite a comedic scene at home and at the supermarket. I would pick up an apple and proceed to drop the same way repeatedly. It is as if my hands couldn’t grasp any more apples or I wasn’t meant to eat any apples. I was trying so hard to keep the doctor away but it seemed that my hands had other thoughts. As I kept dropping my apples, I wondered whether the forces around me were trying to send me a message. See, I told you I am very superstitious.
My mom, had she still been alive, would have been able to tell me what this apple dropping really meant. See I grew up “knowing” that dropping a fork meant that a male would be dropping by. Opening an umbrella inside the house was courting disaster. So what does dropping an apple mean? It must mean something, right?
As a kid, we all knew that when you peel an apple you are to recite the alphabet and the letter that you are on when the peel breaks is the initial of the person that you will marry. A very silly endeavor we would all do at lunchtime. But we sort of knew that wasn’t real. Giggle. But otherwise, I don’t recall my mother explaining to me what apple falling meant. I have since learned that a Jewish tradition holds that on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah (New Year) one should dip a slice of apple in honey, which is said to bring about a sweet year to come. I didn’t do that at all last year. Does that mean I’m destined for a salty year? According to some old wives tales it was believed, centuries ago, that if you cut open an apple and counted the seeds, the number would predict how many children you would have. There is also the old belief that if an apple bursts in the oven while baking, good news is on the way for the person who is doing the baking. But nothing tells me about an apple falling repeatedly.
If my mom were here she would be sure to tell me what dreaming of apples would mean to my life despite me not dreaming of apples. According to certain dream books if you see a lot of apples on the ground it means that you may have some friends that are not true. Hmm. Well, I definitely know I have some frenemies in my work circles. Does that count?
I have fun with these things because it reminds me of my mom. I would chide her for believing these superstitions and then secretely keep them at the back of my mind, just in case. Till this day, I most certainly avoid walking under ladders.
By the way, the phrase “how you like them apples” supposedly originated in World War I, with the “Toffee Apple” trench mortar used by British troops. It is a phrase used to show amusement or a bit of frustration. This past week, I was most certainly bemused quite often at a multitude of events and uttered sentences in my 100 meetings. So, how do you like them apples? Apparently fallen and slightly dirty (five second rule went into play each time it fell).