- Fireballs of the Eucharist
My summer job boss on the laundry truck, an old immigrant from Amalfi named Louie Amalfitano, advised me whenever I'd complain about the rigors of our route to bite the bull by the horns. I learned some time between the starch and the stitch that this is termed a malapropism (or malaprop, if one prefers), after a pixilated character in a British farce written over 200 years ago: ludicrous misuse of a word or phrase, especially by confusion with one of similar sound. I.e., what you mean to say isn't said that way, yet is somehow better said. Like the woman who arrived at the ER in labor and said, Doc, I need one of those epidurables— and presto! gone her pain, though the phrase remained, disembodied, left behind to join the other classics romping in the guild's canon: fireballs of the Eucharist for fibroids of the uterus; smiling mighty Jesus for spinal meningitis. And once, in group therapy, I recall a woman newly divorced [End Page 112] told us she was in the throw of love—and it's not what it's cropped up to be. Seemed funny then.