Looking for a more colorful way to declare, “I am annoyed,” I stumbled upon the expression at a website devoted entirely to idioms and their etymology. (Fellow word geeks unite! Our time has arrived!)
Sure, I guess I could have simply said, “I am annoyed.” There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s clear, simple, to the point. However, fashioning myself as craftsperson of the language arts, I forever seek out-of-the-ordinary turns of a phrase to spice up how I communicate, the intent being to make it more vivid and engaging. Not being much of a cook, I presume it’s in the same manner as a chef would feel if confined to white salt and black pepper. Sure, they’ll do the job; but where’s the fun?
Should you — like me — have been in the dark about “throwing a wobbly;” let me explain. Turns out, it’s not a good substitution for “annoyed.” Rather, it appears to be of British or Australian derivation, coined from the adjective “wobbled” which meant someone was “off center.” So, “throwing a wobbly” can best be described as a petulant rant; somewhat akin to “throwing a hissy fit.” It is however not as severe as “going ballistic.” Now, don’t we feel smart?
Alas, it’s still not the correct usage for what I want so it’s back to being annoyed; or maybe cranky. I don’t know; can one be both? Sure, why not?
Hmmm, I seem to have digressed. The bigger issue is, “What prompted said (poorly described) uncomfortable emotional state?” I shall explain.
Today’s email heralded an e-solicitation from an unheard of someone looking to introduce me to a nutritional protein shake that “can be used as a meal replacement for weight loss and better health.” Not interested in hawking the product, but apparently driven by a more pressing desire to procrastinate on more urgent deadlines, I opted to follow the web link. The page materialized with imagery of beautiful bodies, healthy meals, thick chocolate shakes, and, of course, a prominent “Order Now” button.
According to the text, if I drink just one shake a day “and follow a healthy diet and exercise plan,” I will “lose weight, lower my cholesterol, shed inches, and improve digestion.” Curiosity now engaged, I searched the Internet for dietary aids, and realized virtually every site had a similar disclaimer: “…when combined with a healthy diet and exercise plan…” It might not have been prominent (usually wasn’t); but there it was, plain as day; just like the six-pack abs on the smiling male model.
See, here’s the thing. Should I weigh too much, and should I then choose to “follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly,” I will have no choice but to “lose weight, lower my cholesterol, shed inches, and improve digestion.” It has nothing to do with powders, pills, or potions. Moreover, I can take the money saved to purchase new clothing to better adorn my now-healthier, happier body.
It’s not that such products are all without value; if they help you stay on track, and they’re healthy, and you can afford them, well, as they say, “You go girl!” Yet, it’s vital to remember there is no “magic shake” substitute for behavior change. Until one is willing to make the mental shift from “it’s about what I eat” to “it’s about how I live,” she will continue to be frustrated enough with the results to throw a wobbly.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or firstname.lastname@example.org