I was doing my semi-annual browsing in the book, “Dictionary of Idioms” from Scholastic, this morning while sipping my hot tea and enjoying my oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. (Yes, it is oatmeal today as part of my increased healthy diet. Seriously.)

The first idiom I saw was “Ace Up Your Sleeve.” The book stated that in the 1500’s, most people didn’t have pockets in their clothes. Sleeves served many purposes and by the 1800’s, when gambling with cards was popular, the players sometimes hid the best cards, such as the Ace, up their sleeves.

This idea took root as I did my house hike this morning. My hiking pants do not have pockets. It is allergy season, so my tissue goes into my sleeve. As I did that, I remembered that many people have said that only old ladies put hankies up their sleeves. (Surely by now you have an idea that I am way past the starting requirement to get Social Security.)

I wrote “hankies,” not tissues. What woman carries a handkerchief anymore? But when I was a kid, beautiful, fancy hankies were given as gifts. I got a lot of them because of my speaking and dancing recitals. (I believe mom was grooming me to be another Shirley
Temple. No such luck!)

By the time I was old enough to ride the bus downtown without a parent, my best friend and I would go together and she always pulled out a hankie knotted as a bag to retrieve her fare. Even then I found that amusing.

This same friend, when she was much younger, made a gift for her father for Christmas. It was a pocket. Not attached to anything. Just a pocket. It didn’t even have a hankie in it.

Here in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we have a very powerful and rather long allergy season. The city throbs with the sounds of snort, sniff and blow. Allergy medications practically sell out. Get your tissue early. You don’t want to be without.

Our big culprit is the juniper tree. When the wind blows, as it does often in the Spring, white, sticky stuff fills the air, attaching itself to everything. The only escape is to go up the mountains, above 7000 feet.

Well, my eyes are watering and I’m about to sneeze, so I’ve got to grab my tissue from inside my sleeve. Excuse me, please.

COMING NEXT: Flummoxed and Flimflammed


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