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Like putting socks on a rooster

Posted by Tom Heilman on March 17, 2007

Heres a saying I heard that I found to be quite humorous and painted a verbal picture that can't be misunderstood. Being involved in a difficult task such as assembling a childs christmas toy with a lot of parts and detailed but poorly written instructions could be said to be " Like putting socks on a rooster". If you've ever had a toe nail that continuously got snagged on a sock as you put it on your foot, you can imagine the difficulty you would surely encounter in trying to put socks on a kicking ,fighting rooster who's feet are nothing but the perfect instruments for snagging a sock. To say that the task at hand is "like putting socks on a rooster" says that it is a very daunting and nearly impossible feat (no pun intended). I first heard it while engaged in just such a task in my job as a tradeshow decorator. A profession where such tasks are a daily occurence. It was delivered perfectly by an older co-worker with a slow southern drawal. It brought a team of frustrated workers literally to their knees with laughter and created a break that brought a new angle of attack to the project and helped achieve its successful completion. I searched this sight for the saying and found one that at first glance appears to be very similar but in fact is not related at all. That saying is "(It)fits like socks on a rooster". The later saying,while being descriptive and perhaps mildly amusing,describes an attribute or a state of being.The former refers to an action. Specifically,a task of nearly insurmountable difficulty that is both challenging and frustrating. Any further comparison of the two sayings is like comparing apples and oranges in my view.I'm surprised it doesn't appear on this forum in the manner I've described. For my money,it's a hard one to beat.It paints a vivid and dynamic masterpiece in far fewer than the proverbial thousand words.
I have a sneaking suspicion that it's use in the "ill fitting " form had it's origins when someone possibly misinterpreted the meaning of someone who used it in describing an act (dressing the rooster) as opposed to a result (an inappropriately dressed rooster ). The two sayings are too similar to be unrelated yet too dissimilar in intent to be substituted for one another. Any thoughts?