This past Wednesday, Rep Louie Gohmert (R-Wingnuttia) accused Attorney General Eric Holder of a charge which, to my knowledge, has never been leveled at any cabinet level officer of the United States. He said that the Attorney General was “casting aspersions on my asparagus.” No, I didn’t mishear that, though my bad hearing might have led me to think he said something almost as disjointed. Listen for yourself through the crosstalk.
A slightly longer clip of the exchange can be found at HuffPost. But what does it even mean to cast aspersions on one’s asparagus? Well, it turns out it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just something Mr. Gohmert likes to say to defuse tense situations. As he explained:
“The expression ‘casting aspersions on my asparagus’ is something I found to be helpful in defusing heated exchanges during my days as a litigator, sometimes even bringing a smile from a frown at the thought of something so unexpected as asparagus during such an exchange,” Gohmert said in an e-mail statement. “It has actually been amusing to see the national and international speculation as to what people think may have been the secret meaning.”
I have to confess something. As much as most of what Louie Gohmert says when cameras are rolling makes little or no sense, I can actually understand this one. I do it myself. As you may or may not know, I enjoy writing song parodies. My particular style is, usually, to try to match the sound of the original lyrics as much as possible while still changing the words enough to tell a completely different story. It comes from my bad hearing. Many times, whatever people are trying to say to me gets garbled in my ears and I end up trying to figure out what the person just said based on what they might have been saying. Context helps but where there is none, I have to let my imagination do the translating.
But I also enjoy deliberately saying things that are a little “off-key”, similar to Mr. Gohmert’s, in which I might mangle two popular expressions. One of my favorites is to say, “I have to piss like a French racehorse.” It doesn’t mean anything other than that I have to urinate very, very badly. But it sometimes brings a smile to the faces of the people who hear it, which is almost always followed by a furrowed brow as they try to figure out if they heard me right or not. It keeps ’em on their toes. Or maybe it beeps ’em on their nose, I’m not really sure. I might not have heard the expression right.