fall off the wagon used backwards

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Aug 13 06:19:43 UTC 2005

At 01:43 AM 8/13/2005, you wrote:
>Here's an exchange from an interview
>(http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue224/interview.html), in which the interviewer
>uses "fall off the wagon" to mean 'lose a habit; fall out of a customary
>behavior', exactly opposite in direction to its usual meaning of "break a
>vow [of sobriety]". The interviewee, sf author Steven K.Z. Brust, takes it
>in the meaning evidently intended, but I don't take that as proof that he
>would have interpreted it that way if the context hadn't been so obvious.
> >>>
>Q: What about music? Do you still perform?
>Brust: No, I don't spend any time performing. I just found out that here in
>Vegas there's a coffee shop with an open stage. I was there, and the people
>playing were bad enough that I could go in and look good. So I might try
>that, for the hell of it.
>Q: Do you still practice, or have you completely fallen off the wagon? ....

I guess there may be confusion of two expressions here:

"on the [water] wagon" = "eschewing liquor" or so [hence "fallen off the
wagon" = "no longer temperate/abstinent"]

"on the bandwagon" = "adhering to the popular fashion" or so, but
originally (I think) metaphorically "playing in/with the band" [hence the
current novel/nonce/eccentric "fallen off the wagon" = "no longer playing"]

... or maybe I'm just imagining things ....

-- Doug Wilson

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