Yesterday I took a drink of water that caught in my throat. I spluttered and did a bit of a spit take, and in my mind I distinctly heard by mother saying that the drink must have gone down my “Sunday throat.”
“Sunday throat”? It’s a curious expression. Of course, when you’re a kid and it’s something your Mom says as she’s pounding you on the back, trying to dislodge a piece of hamburger lodged near your Adam’s apple, it doesn’t seem weird. Kids tend to assume that every word their Mom uses must, by definition, be commonplace. It’s only when you get older and start to get weird looks when you use phrases like “Sunday throat” or “elbow grease” that you begin to realize that maybe the Momisms that you know so well aren’t widely used at all.
“Sunday throat” falls into that category. A Google search doesn’t turn up much; the World Wide Words website, in response to a question from a fellow Midwesterner, found only a few uses of the phrase in literature to describe choking, and concluded that “Sunday” is being used in the sense of “special” or “alternative,” as in “Sunday best.” I think that’s not quite right. I always assumed that the “Sunday throat” was the throat that didn’t work — as in Sunday being the traditional day of rest.