One Good Turn

Have you ever noticed how many different variations we have  for the word “turn”? Most everything to do with turn kind of assumes that things are headed one way, but then they’re somehow redirected.

Just think of all the things you can do if you’re turning. You can turn the crank, and you can turn to the left or to the right—just don’t turn around. If I could turn back time, I think I could really turn things around. I’d like to turn the corner, but it’s not my turn. Whose turn is it, anyway? Oh, now suddenly it’s my turn. Of course, one good turn deserves another, although I’m not so sure that applies if what one happens to be turning…is tricks. A witch turned me into a newt one time. (I got better.) Technically, what actually happened was that Kendra kissed me and I turned into a prince. You might think I had to turn in my man card. Not so. (Although it did turn my life on its head.) That reminds me: Back when we were dating, Kendra and her friends were talking about me one time and she said: “He could be a powerful ally, if he could be turned.” But then the conversation turned, and, as it turns out, it was me who returned the favor. That’s not  as bad as when the milk turns. That’ll turn your stomach, and unfortunately, there’s no turning that off once it starts. Even if you try to turn a blind eye to it, it could still turn loose at any time. When that happens, what I like to turn to is two turntables and a microphone because that usually turns me on, Sonny, to something strong. Speaking of being turned on, I hope we have a good turnout. You never know, after all, how things are going to turn out.

One of my favorite lines from the wonderful film Raising Arizona is when Holly Hunter’s character tells Nicolas Cage’s character to “Turn to the right” because it has a double meaning. You see, in the literal sense she means it because she’s taking his mug shots for his incarceration, one from the front and one on the left side, so she needs him to “turn right.” (By the way, his pictures turn out okay—we get to see them at the end of this scene.) But she also means that in order to deserve her love, she needs him to turn his life around (turn to the right). Clever, right? And of course decides to turn over a new leaf for her because she’s turned his head. (By the way, after that whole exchange, she takes his fingerprints and turns in his paperwork.) Their story gets better for a while, but then it takes a turn for the worse.

I’m going to turn the page to a different topic now: Why do we still say “turn down the TV” or “turn down the radio”? I mean, in the old days, it was because those things had knobs (remember those?), which you literally had to turn. But we haven’t had knobs like that since, oh, I dunno, the turn of the century (back when “Turn! Turn! Turn!” was still on the radio). So why are we still turning those things? (Also unrelated, my dad still says “turn the channel.” Pretty much everybody else I know says to “change” it.) While I hate turnips, I’d like to end on a positive note, so I’ll leave you with thoughts of apple turnovers instead.

I think I sprained something with all that. I could probably use a tourniquet. (Okay, maybe that one was a stretch.)

Come on, Turn. Seriously. We have other words. Why do you feel like you have to mean everything?

I’m sure I missed at least a couple. Fortunately, my lovely readers enjoy pointing out my mistakes for the world to see. Which “turns” am I missing? What was your favorite music video from the 80’s? Or the 70’s, I guess, for that matter. Why do you think peanuts (and tree nuts) seem hell-bent on killing kids these days?

2 Responses to “One Good Turn”

  1. Adam Bouse December 15, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    Turn down the bed. Take a turn for the worse. Makes my stomach turn. Waiting for the light to turn green. To turn green with envy. Turn around (bright eyes).

    Love this post – huge fan of language, going to be a huge fan of this blog.

  2. Mom December 16, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    I turned to your dad and said, “our son can really turn a phrase!”

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