Friday, January 08, 2021


Obscurity of the Day: Mike -- They Love Him So


Do you know what a "minced oath" is? What a lovely picturesque term for something you can say in polite company when what you really want to say is !@#$%$#@!!!! 

Some minced oaths replace a naughty word with a G rated one. Think "Darn it all!" or "I don't give a fig!" Others are designed to keep the speaker from violating Commandment #3 -- that's where we get terms like "cripes" and "jeez" so as to not actually be taking a certain someone's name in vain.

It appears some take that third Commandment so seriously they don't even like to utter the names of saints. From these goody-goodies we got the terms "for Pete's sake" and "for the love of Mike" (St. Peter and St. Michael barely disguised), and that's where today's obscurity comes in. 

The phrase "For the love of Mike" can be traced back at least to the 1880s, but it took a few decades before Ardo D. Condo, one of the brightest lights in the NEA cartooning stable, took aim at this ridiculous phrase. He wondered in cartoon form what would happen if there really was a Mike to whom all these minced oath utterers were referring. While Mike -- They Love Him So is no competition for Condo's classic series Everett True and Mr. Skygack from Mars, this cartoon is great fun nonetheless, showing what sort of interesting permutations Condo could twist out of such a one-note comic idea.

Mike - They Love Him So runs in the NEA archives as an occasional weekday strip from September 8 1910 to January 5 1911, but NEA clients were notorious for running things on their own schedules, so don't be surprised if you find it in a paper a little earlier or later.

It doesn't take a genius to realize that the correct form is "for the love of Bob!"
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