Heard on "Today on NBC"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 29 14:57:42 UTC 2007

Matt is questioning Magic Johnson on the amount of medicine that the
latter takes daily to control his HIV. Magic answers that he now takes
only two medicines a day "because the virus is _layin' dead_ in [his]

Clearly, Magic means that the virus is _lying dormant_ in his body.
However, this caught my attention because, in the 'Forties and
'Fifties in Saint Louis, we used "lay dead" to mean, "laze around the
house doing nothing in particular."

It may be a bit macabre, but I gotta tell y'all, the mental picture of
HIV just lazin' around in Magic's bod doin' nothin' in p'ticluh cracks
me up.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
                                              -Sam'l Clemens

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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