The bumper sticker on the back of an Odyssey minivan said, “Where are we going? And why am I in this handbasket?”
After I finished laughing I wondered, not for the first time, “What the hell is a handbasket? And why do people travel in them?”
But I came up empty. None of my three dictionaries – English, Canadian, or American – held a definition. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations and Wikipedia wove no tales of idiom origin.
What I do know is the meaning of "going to hell in a handbasket": the situation is deteriorating fast and the person in the tote has no control over it.
But since a handbasket is, as far as I can tell, simply a basket carried by hand, how fast can it be going? Why not jump out, is what I want to know. Clearly, there’s more going on in this phrase than Wiki and I understand.
So for now I’ve moved on, just like the handbasket that has evolved into a two-tonne metal tube with airbags, a six-cylinder engine, seating for seven, and a classical reference to the fallout from the Trojan war.
If Ulysses is at the wheel it might be a bumpy ride.
On the up side, it’ll be a long one.