Drinking the Kool-Aid

From the archives at Chicago Moms Blog. Originally posted in April 2008.

A few months ago, everyone I knew was drinking the Kool-Aid. Or at least that's what they said they were doing. Eventually I realized it's just an expression.

But I didn't really understand it, so I did the natural thing. I Googled the Kool-Aid man looking for answers. I took a trip to his house,

his virtual house, that is, and found his phone number. Apparently he's got one of those old-fashioned party lines and shares it with Kraft Foods (800-367-9225).

I was thrilled when a man answered the phone, but quickly realized I was not speaking with the actual Kool-Aid man. Still, I asked the kind fellow about this whole “drinking the Kool-Aid” thing. Did he know what it meant? Had Kool-Aid sales spiked recently, what with all this Kool-Aid drinking?

He put me on hold while he went off to research the matter. In less time it takes for my eight-year-old to brush his teeth, the Kool-Aids man's lackey was back on the line. And he was clueless. He had no idea what the phrase was about or why people are used it. It was clear this man was not partying at the Kool-Aid man's house, but rather languishing in some dark corporate cube farm that does not allow employees to access the Internet.

I have Internet access, though. So I Googled again and learned at WordsSpy.com that the phrase "comes from the 1978 Jonestown Massacre in which members of the Peoples Temple cult committed suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid (although some say the drink of choice was actually Flav-R-Aid)."

Got it; drinking the Kool-Aid is a Bad Thing.

But wait, UrbanDictionary.com adds some hip insight: The phrase can also be used in the opposite sense to indicate that one has embraced a particular philosophy or perspective; to completely buy into an idea or system, whether good or bad.

Well, that adds a useful context. Now I just have to work it into my everyday phraseology, so I can sound cool. Unless, of course, I'm too late. I meant to post this last November. Oh well, how cool can I be? I still wear Mom jeans.

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