Chris and I headed to Peterborough on Saturday night to spend some time with Danae, her boyfriend and her new puppy, Cooper. On the way home from a movie, we were sitting at a red light when all of a sudden, there was some commotion in the idling car beside us and let me tell you, it sure brought back memories for me!
“They’re doing a Chinese Fire Drill!” I exclaimed with glee. As soon as I said it, I realized that the name had a racist connotation to it and I wondered where the name came from…so I googled it when I got home.
In World War I, British soldiers came up with the phrase “Chinese Landing” to describe a clumsy or bad landing. It should be noted that this wasn’t originally meant to imply Chinese citizens couldn’t land a plane well or anything of the sort; rather, it came from the fact that, in a bad landing, the soldiers would often use the phrase “one wing low” to described this. When said quickly, this somewhat resembled the Chinese language in sound to the British soldiers, hence, “Chinese Landing”. This later evolved into describing any clumsy or inept landing. Eventually, this spread to other phrases where anything done clumsily or ineptly was called a “Chinese X” where X is whatever the act was.
I’m going back to my high school days now. Saturday night live. My friends and I would drive downtown, eat a big dinner of ribs and then jump into the car and head for the big and busy intersections. When the light turned red, we would jump out of the car,( like the car was on fire), run around chaotically and then hop back in before the light turned green. Most often, we would leave someone standing in the intersection as we drove off and we all thought it was a riot.
I loved doing this. I’m not sure why but I loved running around the car, sometimes more than one car, frantically trying to jump in before the green light. I think it was the laughing that was the kicker. So, when I saw these guys in the car beside me, doing it all wrong, I shook my head.
My daughter turned to me and said, “Mom, you used to do it all the time so don’t be shaking your head.”
“Absolutely Danae but it’s all wrong.”
Actually, I was wrong. They were having a ball. That’s the point right?
Simple fun. Simply.