A few days ago, my lovely Bride leveled me with a barb that cut me to the quick.** She was going to be in a social setting with a group of younger adults and I asked if I should stop in. Her answer was a simple, “No, you’re a stick-in-the-mud.” Hmmm…

If I didn’t know my spouse so well, I would have been really offended by that. I’m not, though, and it’s probably safe to repeat that old twisted saying, “I resemble that remark.” I can’t get too angry with her because, to be honest, I AM a stick-in-the-mud.

That, of course, depends on your definition of stick-in-the-mud. I just looked it up, and as it turns out, I might not actually be one. A stick-in-the-mud is “a person who is dull and unadventurous and who resists change.” I’m not so sure I fit into that mold. Maybe sometimes… But I actually can be a change agent when the situation calls for it.

It gets a little gummy, however, when you look at some of the synonyms for the term. Here are a few: conservative, fossil, troglodyte, museum piece, fuddy-duddy, square, stuffed shirt, dinosaur, and throwback. I’ve been called almost every one of those things along the way—sometimes by myself. In actuality, I’ve never looked up the definition before this and was probably using it slightly wrong all these years (well, I don’t really use that term for the most part—but I’ve definitely misunderstood it).

It Gets a Little Gummy

I’ve always equated stick-in-the-mud with party pooper. I think that might be how my wife was using it, but I don’t want to put words in her mouth. It’s not unusual for me to be a wall flower of sorts when I’m with large numbers of people. Still, that has more to do with my introverted personality than it does with my attitude (I think).

Just to be safe, I looked up the term in another source. The definition they gave was, “A narrow-minded or unprogressive person; one who lacks initiative.” If that was ever applied to me, I would vehemently repudiate it. Furthermore, the origin of the phrase employed the imagery of someone whose feet were stuck in wet clay. “These were usually applied to people who remained in a difficult situation, either by choice or because they were stuck.”

After Checking the Sources

After checking all the sources, I’ve decided I’m not a stick-in-the-mud—no matter what my better half says.

The Lord once asked through the prophet Isaiah, “How can I let myself be defamed?” Since I’m not God, such a rhetorical question from my lips wouldn’t mean much. Still, I guess I should stand up for myself once in a while.

**I’ve never really understood that phrase. I’m not even sure I have a quick—whatever that is. This idiom is said to mean, “quick in the sense of a vital or a very sensitive part of the body, such as under the fingernails.” I guess I DO have a quick.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

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