Thursday, March 20, 2014

That's what she wondered

In a recent post, I described my difficulties in comprehending adult jokes, which reminded me of the story of my introduction to the country's most popular adult joke, which completely eluded my comprehension for months.

It was about 4 years ago. I had heard the phrase "That's what she said" a few times by then, but I still hadn't picked up on its meaning. People always laughed when it was said, but I had no idea why. That fateful night, I was standing with a group of friends in a Metro station as we waited for our train to take us home when one of them broke out his "That's what she said" app on his phone. At that moment, after months of wondering, I finally had the meaning of "that's what she said" explained to me.

Well, the explanation didn't help much because it still didn't make sense to me, but I learned to accept it for what it is—something you say when you want to turn an innocuous comment into a sexual allusion. When I hear this phrase, (and I hear it often, because I am usually the one making the innocuous comment) I know it is once again eye-rolling time for me. It doesn't really matter what the allusion is supposed to be to, I just know that it's dirty and that's enough for me.

But, four years later, the linguist in me is still curious. I still can't figure out why everyone else but me seemed to innately understand what it meant. And if, maybe, at some point in its early usage, its meaning was somehow obvious. What was its early usage anyway? Anyone else out there as befuddled as I am? If so, check out this article on Know Your Meme. It's fairly comprehensive, and believable.

But it still doesn't explain how people who are not me always understood what "That's what she said" means. I guess some things are meant to remain a mystery.


Darlene Mitchell said...

I don't know if this will make you feel any better...but I don't really get it, even now. lol ....still a mystery to me:-)