Saturday, October 8, 2011


Elections are approaching, and hereabouts school board wannabes are the first to have their signs out. Not surprisingly, this year as in most years, at least one candidate has an apple on his sign, and we’re expected to understand, instantly, that Apple = School. Walking along, the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil popped into my mind—assuming, of course, that it was an apple. Is the linkage biblical? If so it would be ironic, therefore the answer must be No. The student brings an apple to the teacher. The custom, Wikipedia informs me (but omits all detail) is common in Denmark, Sweden, and in the United States. Certainly not in Hungary, Germany, or in France—as I can testify from personal experience. Just to check this out, I put up a Google search in German. Yes, indeed. They know all about it—but associate it strictly with Amerika, find it amüsant, and speak of Bestechung (read bribing) of the teacher. One ultra-clever posting suggests an amusing explanation. Perhaps, the author says, tongue in cheek, writing in German but quoting in English, An apple a day keeps the doctor away was modified by clever students into An apple a day keeps the teacher at bay. He justifies this by noting that an “apple polisher” is a toady trying to curry favors. A toady? Why he was a charlatan’s servile assistant who ate a presumably poisonous toad to enable his master in expelling poisons. — Come on, already, etymologists! Where is that favorite word of yours? You should preface that by saying “perhaps.” I don’t believe it for a moment.

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