February 20, 2005

In the weeds

When you are in the kitchen, and you've got four or six burners going, and you need more garlic for the entree and you forgot to chop the onion for the peas, the peppers need a good shake and the pies need to be taken out of the ovenright now, when the pasta water is boiling over and you just dropped the julienned carrots on the floor -- when you're alone, in short, and everyone about you is losing their heads -- then they say you are "in the weeds".

Where are the weeds? And where does this term originate? Let me know.

Update: One correspondent suggests that it's derived fromwidows weeds, which in turn comes from an archaic use of weed as habitual attire (cf. a nun's habit). Another proposes that the usage comes from fishing, where the stream banks can easily foul your line.

More updates: Additional suggestions: (a) when your mise is not en place, you will be up to your ears in little tasks that need to be done. (b) In golf, if you're not in the fairway and not even in the rough, you're in the weeds.