I am working on finding volunteers for a thing at the Fair on Thursday, and it is like pulling teeth.
Or it would be, if that phrase really made any sense to me at all. Here are things that apply to pulling teeth that do not generally apply to the average tedious task this phrase is applied to:
- Pulling teeth is bloody and spitty. Something that’s “like pulling teeth” rarely is.
- Pulling your teeth requires a certain amount of bravery. “Like pulling teeth” activities generally only require that you not get bored and/or frustrated before completing them.
- Pulling teeth can be somewhat fun, with even an edge of irresistable enticement — remember how difficult it is to not wiggle a wiggly tooth? Tedious tasks are not fun or enticing. This is why we say they’re like pulling teeth.
- Most often, one pulls their own teeth. Activities that are “like pulling teeth” are rarely self-directed, because if they were, you’d have more control over them and would be able to influence how (figuratively) painful they are or are not.
When one is pulling somebody else’s tooth, I’m not sure what the problem is here anyway. Is the hard part trying not to get bitten? Because that’s all I’ve got. Other than that, it seems like nothing about pulling teeth should be that hard, or painful, or coercive.
Basically, my hunting down volunteers, while challenging, has very little in common with pulling teeth. Arguably, not even enough to say it’s “like” pulling teeth. That is like saying making nametags is like catching fireflies. If you try hard enough, there might be a connection there (people ultimately throw out nametags, fireflies die in the jar overnight?), but not enough to go around saying things.
As far as I can tell, the only thing recruiting volunteers and pulling teeth have in common is that they would both be animated in a comical manner, if, in fact, one were to animate these things.
(FAMILIAR – FAMILY-AR – DISCLAIMER: That time Mom had to chase me and pin me down to pull out my tooth doesn’t apply. We’re not talking about that. Shut up.)