According to Hofmann: Trust me | According to Hofman
Bruce Springsteen once said — well, sang, actually — “you can’t start a fire without a spark,” and then he talked and talked and talked.
Nothing against Springsteen, but you go to one of his four-hour gigs, for three hours, it’s just him talking.
“Woooohooo!” exclaimed a fan during a concert in Springsteen. “Now Bruce is talking about growing up in a working class town with this high school sweetheart! Thought he was gonna save this one for the encore!
Sorry to go on a little rant there, but the spark that ignited this week’s column is a single phrase that I’m sure you’ve all heard in your life, but maybe wasn’t obsessed like Me: “Trust me.”
When we hear this phrase, we automatically know that it is a phrase in which the person speaking the phrase conveys that they should be believed by the person to whom they are addressing the phrase. Meaning is buried deep in our brains like the instinct to procreate and hunt.
But when I recently heard that phrase, I had to pause and fight the urge to squint while trying to figure out why it had to be said that way instead of “trust me” or “you believe” or, as I uttered when trying to pull myself out of a speeding ticket, “Your belief in me is the passion of my life, officer.”
I still got the speeding ticket.
Anyway, what would have been the first reaction when someone heard someone else say “Trust me?”
“Wait…do I believe you, do you believe me, or do I believe you believe yourself? That’s the weirdest way to get out of a ticket for speeding I have ever heard of!
Maybe the phrase came out of the 1960s as I remember the opening lyrics to the Beatles song “I Am the Walrus.”
Then again, “I’m him like you’re him like you’re me, and we’re all together” may be less a tribute to “trust me” than a side effect of magic mushrooms.
As with all things I misunderstand, I decided to check the internet, which informed me that I might have a serious fungal infection, but that’s what I get by doing WebMD the home screen of my computer.
But what I really found was that such sentence structure goes back to dates that AC/DC is attached…or maybe it’s BC/AD, but who’s counting?
I mean, who hasn’t had to read a couple of sentences that start with something like “Douth mustn’t…”?
Nothing against biblical times, but maybe dyslexia was rampant in those days and phrases like literary and literally and liturgical “believe me” became scripture.
However, in my research, “trust me” didn’t seem to go back that far with one source indicating that the phrase didn’t even appear until after the 18th century. The source went on to say “trust me” so I had to take him at his word.
It makes me wonder – or wonder it makes me – when did the phrase really emerge in the cesspool of the English language.
With my limited knowledge of history and literature, my best bet for the origin of the phrase would be 1980, which was the year “The Empire Strikes Back” was released.
I’m no “Star Wars” expert by any stretch of the imagination, but while I’m pretty sure “The Empire Strikes Back” didn’t contain the phrase “trust me”, the movie does contain a index of inspiration in the character of Yoda.
Yes, the very old and very wise Yoda for some reason used sentence structure as stable as the game of Jenga with sentences like “I can help you”, “I found someone, you as” and “Don’t try. Do or don’t”.
Imagine an 80’s kid being scolded by his parents for something he probably did, but he has to seem convincing to them that he’s innocent.
Now, who’s more convincing than Grandpa Yoda?
“Do it, I didn’t,” said the kid. ” Believe me. Shave the hamster, my sister did!
Of course, who’s to say “trust me” didn’t inspire the way Yoda was written to speak in “Star Wars?”
When all is said and done, I guess it’s kind of magical language – it’s influenced by a person’s background, location and style, and it’s something that is constantly changing and developing from unexpectedly over long stretches of time…or almost the end of a Bruce Springsteen concert.
According to Hofmann is written by Rostraver Township staff reporter Mark Hofmann. His books, “Good grief! A Guide to Biting the Big One…and Dying, Too” and “Stupid Brain” are available on Amazon.com.