Phrase Examination 1: “happy as a clam”

July 11, 2010 - Humour

In a new type of post I will class “Phrase Examination” I will examine common metaphorical phrases that, when examined deeper, often have deep existential implications.

For example, often times, people, myself included, will use the phrase “Happy as a clam”. from the context, it suggests that clams are in fact happy.

However, how do we know a clam is happy? How do we even know a clam is capable of emotion? Oftentimes, I’ve wondered, since I really have too much time on my hands, wether it might actually be a reference to the clam’s physical shape itself, how, when you look at a clam from a isometric viewpoint, the clam often appears to be wearing a smile, which to the uneducated observer can seem to run to infinity. Of course, such a concept is rather foolish- a smile is defined as “a facial expression characterized by turning up the corners of the mouth; usually shows pleasure or amusement”. of note here are the terms “facial” and “mouth” a clam has no face, and the bivalve’s two-halves hardly form a “mouth” as much as it forms a “concave environment in which it spends it’s entire life”. Additionally, the concept is based entirely on a viewpoint- from above the clam. if you do the same from the bottom, the clams metaphorical expression becomes one of deep emo-like sadness, the type that makes you wonder if it cuts itself because it’s not worth it’s own blood.

Another Clam-related phrase, or more precisely, clam-related word, is the word “clammy” which means moist and warm, and can usually apply to nearly everything in a warm humid environment. contrariwise, the Clam is a saltwater bivalve that lives in seawater in the temperate regions of the Earth. under the water the humidity is at a constant 100%, for reasons I hope i need not explain, but the Clam doesn’t only live in warm water, nearly anything in the temperate region is suitable. Additionally, it’s cold-blooded, so the implication that warmth+moistness somehow implicates a relation to clams is only half-true, and truly the word “lobstery” or “octopussy” could apply equally as well. (although I think the latter is used to mean “deactivating a nuclear warhead at the last second while wearing a clown-suit that a colleague was killed in” or even as an alternative form to mean pulling the old “swithcharoo” where, for example, you replace a priceless artifact with a fake of the same artifact and take the original for yourself.). And of course such such words are far more sound metaphorically.

But back to the existential implications of a clam’s emotions. It’s rather rather stupid to assume it has emotions. And certainly if it does the predominant one cannot possibly be happiness, but rather complete and utter boredom. I mean, the creature spends nearly it’s entire life completely motionless, filtering the fish crap from the ocean and eating it. Now, I’m no food critic, but fish crap is hardly my definition of fine dining. Sure, clams have a foot and can even swim, so they aren’t completely immobile, but you never watch horror movies about piranha-like clams that strip a creature to the bone in seconds, nope, such honours are reserved for piranhas (although I suppose my simile comparing clams to piranha’s sort of gave that away) which reminds me of that awful 1978 “piranha” movie. Which of course buys into the whole notion that pirahna will eat anything. which is ignoring all the scientific efforts I put in years ago! Why, during my experiments, I was trying to figure out why piranhas will reduce a monkey to the bone, but leave a baked potato untouched. It was important scientific research, and if I had discovered why I might have cured cancer. I believe this is the same facility where we were performing experiments to do the following:

-make a cat laugh
This had important connotations. First, we needed to determine wether cat’s simply had no sense of humour, or perhaps they were only amused by certain kinds of humour. We were unable to make a cat laugh, even after years of experimenting. We were certain we saw some smiles on the cats when we showed them makeshift propaganda videos that depicted a great cat leader telling his cat followers that they had finally taken every single grain silo in the world, and it was time to begin phase 2. This video was produced by a strange fellow named Catty Felinous McKitten, whom we later discovered wasn’t a human at all but rather an inpromptu and unexpected alliance between the OCAWYCAFALWCFOD (Old Cats Against Whatever the Young Cats Are For and Also Like Wet Cat Food as Opposed to Dry) and the young cats, who by that time had decided on the name “Young Cats Who Hate Animaniacs and Will Ally With Older Cats Only When It Serves All Catkind In Their Struggle For Control of the World’s Grain Supply” known by the shorthand YCWHAWAWOCOWISACITSFCWGC. (pronounced why chwa wah wookow isackit cerwug gik).

-turn a piece of toast back into bread.

This was really a spin off of a previous experiment where we tried to turn a cooked boiled egg back into a raw egg. I forget the exact reasons, but it was somehow related to extending the battery life of AAA batteries. Also, the market demand for an untoaster would reach unprecedented levels, on account of the fact that toasters have this tendency to either overtoast or undertoast, and with the technology behind an untoaster one could integrate the two using a series of low-quality timers like those used in toasters today to make it so that regardless of how skewed or useless the thermosistor used in the “darkness” knob is, the toast will always come out perfect, and if it is too dark you could set it the “untoast” mode and resolve that easily. It was discovered however that simply using a less shitty variable resistance timer on a actual toaster one can make one that works properly. No company has tried this, and only a few expensive (nearly 20 dollars) models are in existence.

-devising haircutting technology for frogs

We quickly met a dead end after many years of simulations when we realized that frogs didn’t have hair. we them wasted the next few years performing similar simulations for tadpoles, when the same was revealed for them. However, we were able to apply the haircutting technology successfully on true tadpoles (people with 1/8th or less Polish descent). The invention would have changed the world- it consisted of two blades, each with a single handle, connected using a single flexibly axis. by using the thumb to hold onto one handle and the rest to hold the other side, one can easily cut paper hair, and other similarly low shear strength materials. funding stopped when it was realized that what we invented was actually a pair of scissors.

-creating a unit for measuring freedom

With this we hope to rate a number of first-world countries based on their “freedom quantity”. our initial attempts to devise the system were common among those trying to devise a unit of measure- we chose two reference points, and gave them values. We chose the freedom inside a prison as the low point, and the freedom of a bird as the high point. However, our progress soon slowed as we started arguing amongst ourselves about exactly how free a bird truly is, and wether a animal needs to be sentient to actually be free. Additionally, many birds are placed in cages, so the simile “as free as a bird” cannot possibly compare to them. Not to mention the fact that Canary’s were used extensively to test the dangers of deep areas of a mine. (except in areas, such as Canada, where Canary cages were hard to come by. We improvised and just sent some chinese guys, which worked out fine… well, for us, not necessarily for the chinamen)- (serious sidebar: this is absolutely true, that and even more inhumane acts, such as sending them in to explode dynamite without giving them enough time to get away. This was during the building of the transcontinental Canadian Railroad, which was a condition of British Columbia’s entrance into the confederation. Additionally, the line itself served as a buffer to keep those nasty American’s from yelling “manifest destiny” and scoffing up the remaining parts of British North America not yet confederated as provinces or territories)

-make a clam smile

This was actually a offshoot from the initial discussion about “happy as a clam” that we had in the lunchroom. We all agreed that since seeing a clam smile was completely dependent on your perspective, we should try to make it so the clam truly forms a smile in the traditional sense. We did modify our definition and define the “mouth” as the bivalve opening, And we did have to stop our experiments on howler monkeys, AND we never did get clams to smile. We wrote the experiment off after a few years as “as hard to do as getting a cat to laugh” difficulties which we of course had first hand knowledge of.

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