In a Pickle
William Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, contains one of the first uses of the expression “in a pickle.” The Tempest is a story of a shipwreck (think Gilligan’s Island) with some magic and a serious amount of alcohol consumption thrown in! The play begins with King Alonso of Naples, his family members and a group of noblemen sailing back to Italy after the wedding of the King’s daughter in Tunisia. The ship is destroyed by a violent storm – a tempest – and the passengers find themselves washed ashore on an island.
The King’s butler, Stefano (who interestingly came ashore in a wine cask), and his jester, Trinculo, pass the time by drinking until extremely drunk. When the King finds Trinculo, the dialogue goes like this:
King Alonso: “How camest thou in this pickle?” (In other words, “How did you get so drunk?”)
Trinculo: “I have been in such a pickle since I saw you last, I fear me, will never out of my bones… ”
In Trinculo’s case, “in a pickle” refers to being drunk – although Trinculo’s drunken state is certainly a problem!
Over time, “in a pickle came” to mean being in a difficult situation with no easy solution. It’s also a popular baseball expression for when a runner tries to advance to a base, realizes he can’t make it, and wants to go back to where he came from. But it’s too late for the runner – the opposing team has the ball! The runner is left to run back and forth between bases until he touches a bag or is tagged out.
The American healthcare system provides another illustration of being “in a pickle” – a continuing problem with no solution in sight. Reports that the US spends the most on healthcare but has worse health outcomes among high-income countries are repeated year after year. Attempts to fix the problem resembles the baseball player caught “in a pickle” – running between options in hopes of advancement or to just stay in the game. All too often, there is no forward progress and it’s back to the batter’s box. Check out this edition of The Download for more on America’s healthcare pickle!
- The Rundown: CVS Caremark & GoodRx partnership, patients quit weight-loss drugs after a year, and aspartame health risks.
- Spears & Slices: ‘produce prescriptions,’ private equity & your doctor, and spending opioid settlement dollars.
- It’s a Dilly: toxic workplace, tipping tricks and the sounds of silence.
- Relish It: including my personal favorite, A Surfboard-Snatching Sea Otter Is Vexing Wildlife Officials!
Spears & Slices
It’s a Dilly
Enjoy the weekend!
Suzanne Daniels, Ph.D.
P.O. Box 1416
Birmingham, MI 48012
Office: (248) 792-2187
Email: [email protected]