Do you like being snarky? And smugly superior? Particularly about a turn of phrase? So do I! And I used to be all pleased with my brainy-ass self because I knew the real origin of the phrase "Damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead," which legend has it David Farragut uttered during a naval battle during the american civil war.
You see, my eighth grade teacher (and latin teacher, and a naval history buff, and angry chalk-thrower) told us what it really meant.
You, like the eighth-grade me, might have assumed that these were the brave (and nearly-final) words of a submarine commander. This commander, upon receiving the news that his torpedoes weren't functional, decided to charge in to battle anyways, maybe to ram something. Oh but you would be wrong.
You see, eighth-grade latin-navy angry-chalk man told us, you're spelling it wrong. It's not "damn" the torpedoes, it's dam the torpedoes. That's exactly what you do on a submarine right before you launch them. You load them in the tube, close the door and then "dam" the inside hatch you pushed them through. That way, when you open the outside hatch to shoot, and water floods into the tube, it doesn't come inside and get on your nice battle-shoes.
I know! Is there nothing grown-ups don't know!?
So I've carried this clever bit of homonym supremacy with me all these years, until just this week when I had to spell "Damn the torpedoes" in text. I decided to check my facts. If there's anything worse than being wrong, it's being wrong when you're telling someone that you're all clever for being right when they've been wrong all this time and aren't you a sneaky one for knowing it but then it turns out you've been wrong all this time anyways. Seriously, it's awful; this is why I check my facts. Snarkiness is not just a hobby, it's serious business.
So get this. It turns out that floating, nautical mines used to be called "torpedoes." (You see where this is going, I know..) And here's Farragut leading a flotilla to attack some coastal fort or something, and a ship in the front explodes, because it hit a "torpedo." And everyone's all crazy like "OMG Torpedoez" and Farragut tells them not to retreat.
So he says, "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" And that's apparently what really happened.
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