Do you ever say something, a well-known saying or an idiom, and then you begin to think, is there such an expression? Did I make it up? Have I muddled up another similar phrase? Have I put two different things together and come up with a new expression? Is what I’ve said intelligible?
The other day I said two people were ‘two halves of an apple’, not ‘like two halves of an apple’ – I knew what i meant but I suddenly thought maybe the phrase doesn’t exist, and indeed i can’t find it. I can find examples of a literal phrase – for example the philosophical idea that if you have the two halves of one apple, have you actually got one apple? I came a cross a book of poems by the Chinese poet Yang Ke, ‘Two Halves of the World Apple’ but not the metaphor I’d used.
When i said it out loud, I asked the others whether it made sense, whether it was an actual phrase or one I’d muddled or made up. No-one seemed to know. ‘Like two peas in a pod’? someone asked – no I didn’t mean two separate things which were identical. I meant two people who are alike and in tune with each other that they might almost be two halves of one thing. ‘Like ‘my other half‘?’ No, because that to me sounds as if each of the couple is missing some part which can only be completed by the other person.
It doesn’t mean that two people are virtual clones of each other – an apple isn’t totally symmetrical, it might be a bit bumpy on one side, or a different colour in different places, or have rough and smooth skin. Apparently Plato first had this idea, or used the apple analogy, but i can’t find an exact quite from his Symposium. As far as i can gather, though, Plato was talking about love,(back to the idea of one’s other half) but when I accidentally made up my ‘apple’ comment I wasn’t thinking of love at all!