Friday, August 19, 2011

"Low-Hanging Fruit": The Low-Hanging Fruit of Metaphors?

So TM and I were having a conversation the other night, and he used the phrase"low-hanging fruit." I smirked, as I ALWAYS do when I hear that phrase, and we got into a discussion of why I can't hear (let alone say) it with a straight face. I think that it has something to do with how the first time I heard it, it was in reference to someone who used the phrase a lot (are you following me?), and my friend, who was talking about him, said, "I'd like to kick him in his low-hanging fruit."

You get where I'm going with this.

Also, I have a tendency to "hear" it punctuated as "low, hanging fruit" and to imagine it said in a voice like that of the narrator in Rocky Horror Picture Show when he describes the clouds as "heavy, black, and pendulous." (And if you've ever seen or experienced the interactive version of RHPS, you know that the shout-out line only adds to the immodest association hinted at above.)

So yes, I do have a juvenile streak, much as I try to hide it. (See this post for additional evidence.)

SO ANYWAY, we then started talking about alternative metaphors/cliches, and we couldn't think of any good ones. I suggested "easy target," but that doesn't mean quite the same thing. As TM pointed out, "low-hanging fruit" clearly suggests the easily reachable targets that you accomplish first, with the expectation that you will then get into the higher branches with their less-reachable fruit; "easy target" doesn't imply any more difficult targets to come.

And then we were pretty much stumped.

Thus I give it to you, dear readers. What alternative metaphor(s) would you suggest? Are there other figures of speech that serve the same purpose? Or is there a new metaphor, possibly less testicular, just waiting to be coined?


Anonymous said...

I can't think of any...but now I will always think of your post when I hear "low hanging fruit." Tee hee!

(I can't hear "lab," "slab," or "anticipation"* without hearing it said in manner of Tim Curry in RHPS.)

*hard not to write it as antici...............pation. ;)

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Oh, my, I am among my people!

Is it true you're constipated?

Dr. Virago said...

Oh no, not meatloaf *again*!

Ahem. Anyway, I can't think of another metaphor, but on a related note, I heard one of composition instructors say, without irony (so not an intentional joke), that someone who'd lived through a supposedly terminal illness was a person who "wasn't one to give up the GOAT easily." Goat? Really? I'm now trying to imagine how she justifies that saying in head!

heu mihi said...

I suppose there is a virtue in retaining one's goats...?

There are also, of course, the gems from student papers: "taken for granite," "put up on a pastel." The granite one sort of makes sense, but I have no idea what they're thinking when it comes to pastels (I've seen this one twice, at least). Perhaps that the person in question has been rendered in pastels?