I used to date a girl who called me “The Bees Knees” one day. Obviously insulted, I called her a horses *behind* and instantly broke up with her. I had no idea it was a compliment. Oops.
Is it really a compliment? I did a little digging and discovered that the phrase dates back to the early 20th century. Over time, it has been a derogatory remark (I feel vindicated!), a term for nonsense and a compliment. There are all sorts of theories regarding the phrase’s origin but no one really knows for sure.
Some have said it’s complimentary because bees gather pollen in the pockets on their legs (they must wear cargo pants) and since it is used for making honey, it’s a good thing. Some have even said that it dates back to a dancer who’s last name was Bees. Who knows?
All I know for sure is that I’m very careful with names I call people I care about. My father used to call me “dingle berries”, which I thought was cool until I discovered what dingle berries were. Not cool, although I must admit that calling someone a name when they have no clue what it means can be kind of fun.
From time to time, during a comedy show, if someone was particularly obnoxious, I would say “I will now refer to you add kalijah. People in the crowd who knew what it meant would begin to laugh hard. Usually the obnoxious person had no idea. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, look it up. You’ll get it. Very funny.
I guess if we’re called something we don’t fully understand, we should probably not react until we figure out what it means. Someone once told me I was incorrigible. I felt flattered until I looked it up. Turns out she was right.
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