A Slice Can Be Many Things…

Sometimes I do some of my best thinking while I am in transit. When I am flying somewhere is when my thoughts take flight! I must feel very liberated from my daily concerns, because I truly become very imaginative in an airplane. The next best place for me to do some creative thinking is while I am driving. Since retiring, I miss my morning and afternoon commute of 30 to 40 minutes for that reason alone. It allowed me to mull over what I needed to accomplish in the day ahead of me and to review how things transpired. Today, while driving home from an appointment in Stony Brook, a drive which takes about an hour, I had a lot of time to think about the spring snowfall and the past several weeks of this writing challenge.

I began to meditate on the phrase, Slice of Life, a title which I love for this writing endeavor. It’s a phrase that says so much in so few words, and allows the writer pretty much free-range in how to respond to it. I think of it as an opportunity to tell a small story from my own life experience in the most interesting way I am capable of doing on any given day. Today’s slice is not a story, however. It’s about the word “slice” and the many ways we use it in daily lives.

The first thought that popped into my head while driving was, “No matter how you slice it, it’s still boloney.” I became curious about its derivation so I whipped out my
ipad and found lots of websites that address this question. Here’s what I found:

1933. “Some of our leading scholars trace it back to a favorite American saying of that time, “No matter how thin you slice it, it is still boloney.”
New York Times, 29 November, p.18

Of course that citation shed little light on the saying beyond when it first began to be used, but it’s a saying I often use and still often hear.

A Slice of the Cake. This idiom was explained as being engaged in some sort of enterprise and wanting a “share” of the benefits (such as money). Not to be confused with “A Piece of Cake,” used to describe an experience that turns out to be somewhat effortless. This assignment was “a piece of cake.”

Alfred Hitchcock has been quoted as saying: “For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake.” An interesting juxtaposition, don’t you think?

I began to imagine different slices…
…a slice of pizza
…a slice of pie
…a slice of bologna
…a slice of bread
…a slice of land, etc.
Each of these slices conjures up such a unique but very familiar image. My continued inquiry led me to the words “slice off.” For this expression I found a delightful saying:
“A slice off a cut loaf is never missed.”
Precisely my thought when I have been sneaking a slice of something that I am not supposed to be eating….’tho I had never actually heard anyone use that expression.

Finally, there’s the term slice as it is used in sports. From spending too much time with my husband watching the tennis channel, I have learned that the “slice” is a powerful type of volley in tennis:

Slice…”A stroke that applies spin to either cause the ball to swerve in the air and/or stay low after bouncing.”

All the best tennis players incorporate the “slice” into their winning strategies.

That’s as far as today’s exploration of our friendly expression, “slice of life” has taken me. Have you got anything to add to the list?

ipad and found


14 thoughts on “A Slice Can Be Many Things…”

  1. Barbara, I also find myself doing some good thinking while flying or driving. I found it interesting that you miss your commute. I do enjoy mine. Time in the car is like free time. It is so nice being able to catch up on phone calls (hands-free of course and carefully), podcasts, and thinking. Too bad we can’t blog while driving. Although I believe we could if we just spoke into notes or something. I love your riff on the word slice. Quite interesting. I have found the derivations of words and phrases fascinating as well. You’ve given me a new avenue for a slice.


  2. Hi Barbara,
    So funny, I’ve been thinking about our English language and SO many of our sayings are idioms or have evolved with our history. For example, I wrote yesterday the line “if your dream doesn’t pan out.” It made me wonder if that goes back to mining for gold!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  3. I also do some great thinking while driving; however, not on the LIE! Seriously, though, a voice dictation system would be a great way to blog while driving….JK


  4. Love the journey the mind takes when it is not in the “home” environment. I hate it when I slice off a portion of my fingernail when chopping vegetables, but I do love a slice of summer watermelon. Fun thinking today.


  5. While I do spend a lot of time traveling, I don’t feel like I get very much thinking done during these periods. Perhaps it is because I mostly travel in, out, and around Venezuela for the past few years and any travel experience is FAR from smooth. My drive to work is only about 5-10 minutes but the whole time my concentration must be on my surroundings because driving here is a no-holds-barred race to the next block. I tend to get my best ideas while I’m showering!

    -Amanda at http://teachingwanderlust.com/2015/03/21/thankful-for-great-massages-sol21/


  6. I love that Hitchcock quote! I never thought about the difference between a piece and a slice but they do conjure up different mental pictures. A slice almost feels daintier and more refined than a piece- it also seems smaller to me. I’m not sure why! Love how you researched the words and expressions!


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