There are two idioms that have been bothering me for weeks, months even. But let’s talk about something more pleasant—cookies.
I, like so many others, enjoy a good cookie. What’s a good cookie? Well, it depends on your taste buds. I recently made a keto cookie. No sugar. Healthy. My idea of a good cookie. But I really hate it when cookies crumble (don’t you?), which brings me to the somewhat-offensive idiom, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. It’s thought to have originated with a news headline when a Girl Scout from Bend, Oregon, was conned out of her cookies.
Why so irksome? Well, this idiom seemed relatively harmless before the virus that reared its ugly, spiked head and, in so many ways, caused us to feel somewhat powerless, or at least somewhat anxious. Unknowns can do that. They can be unsettling.
Once I used this idiom to describe what seemed to be (choke) the “new normal.” But now it has this defeatist, almost fatalist ring to it. Saying “that’s the way the cookie crumbles” feels like waving a white flag and I refuse to surrender. I refuse to use descriptions such as new normal, in fact. I hated those words from the first time I heard them and using this “cookie” idiom would seem to cast this misery in stone, which brings us to the second irksome idiom: cast in stone. A phrase apparently heard as early as the 1500s, it was used to refer to anything that was cast, from sculptures to headstones.
Why is this one so irksome? Because if that’s the way the cookie crumbles then, dear God, it may really be cast in stone, which means we really would have to wave our white flags and proclaim defeat because nothing would be able to change or stop this virus and the misery it has inflicted upon the human race. Our fate would be immortalized, an epitaph for all to see.
Some of us may have breathed a collective sigh of relief as the two mRNA vaccines landed in Canada, even with the unexpected (expected?) slower rollout. There is hope. Hope that life may once again return to “normal,” that we will live and dream and dance and hug again. That life will once again be brimming with possibility.
In a sense, perhaps our normal will be new—a new beginning, a new path forward.
But, to digress, I have developed quite a disdain for both of these idioms. I have dropped them from my conversations, just as one would in the childhood game of Hot Potato, and I will never use them again.
Thank God this is not the way the cookie crumbles. And it is not cast in stone.
That said, here’s to the old that we miss and the new that we look forward to!