Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Chip and the Shoulder

 In the days of my youth, you’d hear this expression pretty often. People would say: He’s got a chip on his shoulder. Sad to say, this expression is being lost. You hardly hear it anymore. But that doesn’t mean the chips are gone. Oh no.

The phrase apparently goes all the way back to the 1600's, and the “chip” was a piece of wood. But the way I understood the expression back in the day was informed by a very popular TV commercial featuring an actor named Robert Conrad, who played tough guys in TV shows. He was selling batteries by putting a battery on his shoulder, looking into the camera, and saying, “”Knock it off. Go ahead. I dare you.” He was playing with the idea of the expression. If you want a fight, mess with my battery, the idea being the same as the chip on the shoulder. You can bug me about a lot of things, but if you bug me about this particular thing, my chip, my sensitive issue, the thing in my life I don’t have any patience about, you will get a fight. Or an angry response. Or I will pour out all my insecurities and frustrations on you. Or I’ll just get snarky.

Do you have a chip? Or chips? Is your shoulder getting tired yet?

If you want a clue as to what your chip might be, just fill in the blanks:

One thing that really gets on my nerves is ______________.

If there’s one thing I really hate, its _______________.

I just can’t stand people who _______________.

The thing about these chips is that they’re kind of like another kind of chips. Once they’re off your shoulder, and on the ground, they’re kind of like...

Cow chips.

If you get my drift.

We have a tendency to step in them and, well, you know how it goes. We spread the chips all over the place. We make a big mess. Smelling up the place. Because of that thing that gets on our nerves, that thing we really hate, that we can’t stand.

That thing which reveals how little we really believe in grace and forgiveness.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011


  1. What about chocolate chips? :)

  2. Ya got yer good chips and yer bad chips. Then ya got yer "don't want to get involved" chips. And a course, yer sailor chips, what keep sayin' "Chips ahoy! Chips ahoy!"

  3. So then it sounds like you are saying maybe some people carry around a lot of cow chips on their shoulders. Therefore they (their attitude) are stinky. Like cow chips. So I wonder if someone knocks off the cow chips off of your shoulder before you are prepared to let that happen, and the chips fall down on the ground, will that mean that your cow chips are no longer yours or is it that everyone gets to experience your cow chips. Well I say, let the chips fall where they may. And in the process good luck getting out of their way.

  4. Everyone who is unfortunately in your way in that moment gets to experience your chips. And with modern modes of communication, there's almost no end to how much damage the chips can cause. There are many thousands of facebook pages and blogs, all built up on the chips.


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