Fall on his face?

中国日报网 2015-02-06 11:28



Fall on his face?

Reader question:

Please explain “fall on his face” in this, a coach’s comment on a young player: He may fall on his face from time to time, but you know he’ll always play hard.

My comments:

The young player will make mistakes occasionally. In fact he may be prone to making many mistakes but the coach is happy to note that the youngster always plays hard.

That’s comforting for any coach to know, that his players always play hard.

When you’re young and new to the game, any game, you’re bound to make mistakes, silly mistakes even, because you’re not familiar yet with all the ins and outs of the game. But if you play hard and are not afraid of making mistakes, including mistakes that will embarrass yourself, your coach and spectators in general, you’ll be able to make it.

Make it to what?

Well, at least make it to the point where you don’t make mistakes that will embarrass yourself, your coach and spectators in general, you’ll be able to make it.

At least, that is, make it to the point where you won’t fall on your face any more.

Fall on the face, you see, is a metaphor for making mistakes, often in a dramatic and, let’s face it, even embarrassing fashion.

I recall in junior high one of my buddies fell on his face in exact such manner. One summer day in a geography class, the teacher had to leave us for a few minutes to attend to some emergency. I don’t remember exactly what emergency it was, but never mind that. Any way, my buddy felt it a good time to take advantage of the situation. He rose to the occasion beautifully, too, it seemed. He went straight onto the podium with a basketball, took a surveying glance at the class and proceeded to stand both feet on the ball.

You should see the amazed faces of the rest of the class, half in shock and amazement at his feat, half at his sheer audacity because this sort of antics is in violation of classroom discipline.

Anyways, my buddy clearly enjoyed the occasion as much as everyone else, if not more. He was inspecting the class with such a proud simper on his face that it appears he wouldn’t mind the moment lasting for ever.

The moment was brief, though, as the shadow of the teacher swiftly appeared at the door. The next thing we knew, my buddy slipped and fell flat on his backside.

Total silence ensued. Everyone, the teacher, the class, my buddy included, I am sure, remained in total shock.

After class, my buddy would ask me, begging in fact, not to tell anyone of this incident.

Anyways, figuratively speaking, he fell on his face that time, flat and hard.

See the point?

Alright, here are media examples to give you a better idea of what it is like to fall on one’s face:

1. Boston Celtics

Keys to victory: If Larry Bird stays healthy - he missed 76 games after having surgery on both heels - he should be enough to put Boston back on top in the division, as well as restore the Celtics as Eastern Conference title contenders. The cast is there: Center Robert Parish almost had a career year at age 35 (18.6 points, 12.5 rebounds), so don’t expect him to fall on his face at 36; forward Kevin McHale (22.5, 8.1) has a few big years left; and third-year man Reggie Lewis (18.5, 4.7) should be as effective at shooting guard as he was as Bird's replacement at forward last season. DJ is too much of a competitor to be written off, despite concessions to age (35) and a bad ankle.

- National Basketball Association, DailyPress.com, November 02, 1989.

2. A lawsuit by H&R Block against six La Crosse tax preparers has ended with what the attorney representing the six called a precedent-setting ruling on employment contracts.

“This is a kind of a modern-day version of David versus Goliath,” said La Crosse attorney Tom Horvath. “And once again Goliath fell on his face while the little Davids of the world won.”

H&R Block in late December 2004 sued former employees Mary Swenson and Francine Sherbert for breach of contract after the tax preparers left the company to establish King Street Tax and Bookkeeping at 149 S. Sixth St., Horvath said. The women later hired four other former H&R employees.

The employee contract with H&R Block included a two-year noncompete provision that could be extended if they violated conditions, Horvath said.

An amended complaint H&R Block filed in March 2005 named all six employees and sought a two-year injunction and $500,000 in damages, Horvath said.

“H&R was trying to financially crush these former employees,” he said.

- Lawyer: ‘Goliath fell on his face’, LaCrossTribune.com, January 1, 2010.

3. Sen. Rand Paul tried to convince America that Obama is committing a crime, but instead he fell flat on his face and showed the world that he doesn’t know what the president actually does.

Sen. Paul was trying to build the case that it is illegal for President Obama to delay parts of the ACA when his intellectual choo-choo went off the tracks. Paul said, “The way our country works is that legislation is written by Congress, passed by your representatives, the president doesn’t get to write legislation, and it’s illegal and unconstitutional for him to change legislation himself.”

Rand Paul doesn’t understand what the role of the president is. The Executive Branch is in charge of implementing the law. The whole problem with Sen. Paul’s argument is that he referred to the ACA as legislation, but it isn’t legislation. The Affordable Care Act is the law, and Executive Branch has been constitutionally given the power to implement the law. These sorts of delays in implementation are common. Both Democratic and Republican administrations have used them.

- Rand Paul Face Plants On Fox News By Not Knowing What The President Actually Does, DataLounge.com, August 13, 2013.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:陈丹妮)

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