Background: This is a saying that the informant learned from her friends at summer camp when she was in grade school. She attended a co-ed summer camp and as a way to keep themselves entertained, the kids would have crushes and say they were dating just because they held hands on the way to the dining hall one night. Because they were at summer camp and playing sports, the kids would say this proverb as a way to indicate that even if your crush had was in a relationship with some else, it did not mean you were out of luck or didn’t have a shot.
Context: the informant still uses this proverb in her 20s, but the intention behind the saying has changed. When at summer camp, the campers did not realize in their youth that ‘homewrecking’ is socially unacceptable. They saw were so immersed in the competitive culture of camp that a sports metaphor for the romantic and social elements of life there seemed fitting. Now, the informant uses this phrase as more of a mocking joke. She will say it to one of her friends if they see a cute guy, but he happens to be in a relationship. She does not expect her friend to take the saying seriously or act on the meaning. It is interesting how the significance of this proverb has shifted from adolescence to adulthood. At camp, the kids were genuinely encouraging fighting for their crush, even if it meant hurting someone else; now, we can tease our friends in the same context, but with different intentions.
Thoughts: I have heard this saying outside of the informant’s interview and I have always found it to be humorous and I suppose true, but not something to take seriously. What I find interesting about this proverb, in particular, is that it is dependent on interpretation. The person listening to this word of advice can either hear it as ridiculous and funny or they can take it to heart and cause issues. The impact that his proverb has left the listener as an amused audience member or a person who is about to really damage someone else’s relationship. It is very black and white how this saying is received and depends greatly on who is hearing it- as well as their age, sex, and willingness to take charge versus be passive.