I’m running short on time again today and rushing to complete this post, which ended up being about rocks. Other than the memories of skipping rocks across the water, I’m not entirely sure I have much of a story to share. What comes to mind instead, are the various uses of the word rock that have slipped into various idioms in the English language. For example, you might say that something is “solid like a rock” to mean that Joe has been really hitting the gym at lot lately or to describe feeling very bullish about your stock portfolio. Or if you’re feeling rather mean, you might describe someone stupid as having “rocks in their head.” More dubious uses include phrases about “getting ones rocks off” which apparently has to do with sensual pleasures, but nobody has ever figured out just quite why. While ordering a drink “on the rocks” is a request for ice cubes, if you find yourself “on the rocks” it might mean that you’ve hit hard times. Sorry about that. But one thing is clear, rocks have become an important part of our casual conversations.

The word itself also refers to an action, which means to sway to and fro or side to side, causing additional confusion. It can also refer to what you do to get a crying baby to be quiet and go to sleep. The fact that mothers can do this made them seen as the most powerful people on earth and spawned the phrase, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” However, it would have been simpler to just say, “don’t mess with mom.” Of course, there’s the musical version of rock & roll, which has been shortened to just rock and doesn’t sound at all like the much-loved music of the 50’s. No matter the genre, if you love to play and listen to your music really loudly, then folks might say that you’re “rocking out,” just before texting you to tell you to turn that crap down. And, if you make a fuss when everyone around you is blindly going along with a dumb idea, you’ll be accussed of “rocking the boat.” Which in most scenarios, can really only be viewed as a compliment. Please keep doing that.

There are, of course, plenty of other phrases that are inspired by the actual mineral itself. One can be “steady as a rock,” which is quite steady as rocks don’t have legs. Something can also be described as “hard as a rock” as when someone overcooks a biscuit or, again, has a dirty mind. Which makes the less comon phrase of “like a shag on a rock” sound naughty even though it refers to being left all alone like a sea bird nobody has heard of. Well, when it comes to these phrases, I think I’ve “hit rock bottom” which is probably how one might describe this ridiculous post. I’ve no idea why all these things came to mind instead of a childhood story, but I’ve learned never to think too much about that. Instead, I’m just going to blather on with whatever pops into my head, and if you’ve come this far then bless you. And hey, I actually made it entirely to the end of the post, just before I had to hit the publish button and rush away. Rock on!

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Quinacridone Gold, Dioxazine Purple, Red Orange, Perylene Maroon, Turquoise Green, and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.

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21 thoughts on “Rock On

  1. I collect pretty rocks so this one made me smile. I especially like rocks with fossils impressed in them or showing formative layers or beautiful patterns and colors. Funny observations from you about rocks in all their forms and suggestions but you forgot my favorite – rock candy! A stick of rock candy in an unlikely color – oh please, that one will rock my world.

  2. I still have my childhood collection of semi-precious stones – I guess they´re rocks too. This post was really interesting to read – a lot to learn for a not native English speaker. What´s really funny about the rock metaphors: Many of them are part or titles of famous songs (not only rock songs… 😉). You rock, Charlie! 😄

  3. Apparently pet rocks (along with pet potatoes) were a bit of a craze here in the eighties. Glorious – what an ideal pet!

    Goodness, we really do use rocks a lot in our conversation, don’t we? Trust you to make a post about rocks so entertaining, not to mention the beautiful doodlewash! What a lovely collection! I’d gladly take any of those as pets 😉

    Keep on rockin’!

  4. Charlie, I believe this post was very educational and entertaining as English is a second language for me and the expressions, whether academically accepted or not (slang) , are the hardest things to grasp when you are learning a foreign language! So thank you for adding some new expressions to my vocabulary and explaining a few others I never fully understood until now 😆

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