Many of our phrases and activities have double or hidden meanings. There is the obvious definition and there is the imaginary or implied meaning. One idiom that comes to mind is: “Bless your heart”. On the surface, this conventionally is a term of compassion or endearment. In some regions of the southern United States, it’s a somewhat subtle jab or expression of pity and judgement. Depending upon context, “Bless your heart” can be a genteel but cutting insult. If someone is humble-bragging and looking for validation, we might respond with, “Well, bless your heart”.
Another type of double-meaning comes in the form of euphemism. Euphemisms are commonly used by people living in strait-laced cultures or by grown-ups communicating “adult” messages while in the company of young children. A common euphemism is referring to death as sleep. Another death euphemism is “bite the dust”. To explain the euthanization of a suffering family pet, the euphemism “put the dog to sleep” is customarily used–this is one that confused and upset me when I was a child.
Regarding euphemistic actions, a common one is frugality. For example, Business Insider, the New York Post, and other media outlets report that multi-billionaire industrialist, Elon Musk lives in a tiny, $50,000, pre-fabricated rental house. Some people believe this is a public relations stunt being used to make Musk seem more “relatable” to everyday people. Meantime, Musk has previously lived in an array of multi-million-dollar mansions and estates. This includes a 47-acre estate between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. While living in the dinky house is perfectly legal, the use of the tiny home might be seen as “virtue signaling”.
Other legendary, well-to-do figures have used frugality as a cover for greed and stinginess. An example is the protagonist of Charles Dicken’s Christmas story, Ebenezer Scrooge. The elderly cheapskate goes on a journey of self-redemption and becomes a Christmas hero. I continue to wonder if Scrooge’s transformation was just a façade for the holiday season and he went back to his penny-pinching ways afterwards. This would be a perfect scenario for a sequel of the story.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this quip: “My friend told me, he was working on a special Project ‘Aqua Thermal treatment of Ceramics, Aluminum and Steel under a constrained environment’. I was impressed. Later, I discovered that the idiot was washing dishes and utensils in warm water under the supervision of his wife!”