Well, this is a new one. I was being extremely pedantic about choosing a style guide at work. In my defense, it’s kind of my job to be pedantic. In any case, I apologized in case my, shall we say, firm insistence on certain conventions was offensive. We have a good working relationship, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being too abrasive.
In any case, she replied that she’s glad that I’m passionate, and said, “I won’t ask for the time unless I want to know how to build a clock.”
I love the imagery this evokes. I suppose that if said without the more pleasant qualifier this phrase could easily be used as an insult, either to someone’s face or behind their back. It wasn’t intended as such and I’m not receiving it that way, but I honestly don’t think I’d be offended for long. I’d be too caught up in the phrase to worry about it.
Unfortunately, I can’t find any other reference to this phrase. The internet has failed me, and books aren’t helping, either. I’m still digging in the hope that I’ll find something.
I think this may be one of my favorites, second only to the moment when playwright and actor Jim Beaver commented to my friend that she was “tall enough to hunt geese with a rake,” which remains the greatest thing I have ever heard in real life.