posted Mon, 14 Mar 2005
Last summer, I sent brownies to an IT guy who had done me a favor. He wrote me a thank-you email, telling me I must have really “put my foot in it.”
I wrote back and told him I had done no such thing – that I had baked those brownies under perfectly hygienic circumstances.
In his reply, he explained that he was giving me a compliment – that his grandmother used to say that she had put her foot in it anytime she had put a lot of effort into something.
I thought he was pulling my leg, but took him at his word.
When I saw the movie “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” I heard the same phrase. Madea has just prepared a big Sunday dinner. “You’ve never had greens like this,” she promises. “I put my foot in it.”
That is such a vivid image! A big ole’ foot in the middle of a pot of greens!
I’ve always wondered about the line in “The Night Before Christmas.” You know – the one where he “threw up the sash.”
That is just disgusting.
Back to feet in food. The IT guy tells me this is a southern and a black phrase. I don’t keep current on black slang. By the time I know what slang means, it has become completely mainstream.
A couple of years ago, at a neighborhood association board meeting (while I was still stuck on the board), another board member complained about the neighborhood newsletter. There was a section called “Sales in the ‘hood” about recent house sales in the neighborhood. The complainer thought that the word might not be understood by all the readers.
I laughed and said that if the writers and editors of the newsletter, a couple of middle-aged white ladies, knew what the word meant, it had become part of mainstream English.
A friend (black) at work was telling me about her wedding. She had put “not BPT!!!” on her wedding invitations. What’s BPT? I asked her.
“You know! Black people time!”
Not only did I not know the slang, I didn’t even know the concept!
Am I square?