I periodically need someone to peel me off the ceiling, but there’s a story behind this expression for me.
When I was a child, we lived in southern California and one day my parents took us for a drive in the desert to see the blooming cactuses. We stopped somewhere and I picked up a short piece of Yucca tree–nothing more than a hollow stick with holes in it. Then I picked some wildflowers and stuck them in the hollow stick as if it were a flower holder. Life was good.
The five of us loaded back in the car and took off down the road. Not long after, I burst out in a blood-curdling scream (and I wasn’t one of those screamer girls, so this was unusual). Mom looked back and I was plastered to the ceiling of the car. (This was before seatbelt laws, you know.) I had my hands on the headrest of Mom’s passenger seat in front of me and my feet were on the top of the back seat, with my body plastered to the ceiling, pressing as hard as I could. Dad pulled over so they could peel me off the ceiling and figure out what was wrong.
That wonderful piece of wood was full of worms, which my flowers and hot little hands had evicted from their home. Mom patiently took all the flowers out and searched for more worms. She showed me that it was hollow inside–the worms were gone now. Crisis resolved.
Back on the road, I let out another blood-curdling scream and was once again plastered to the ceiling of the car. Dad pulled over. Mom got out. Another worm had come out of the stick. This time I insisted that she throw it away, all of it, even the flowers. How could I trust that there wouldn’t be more worms? And I looked at my brother and sister’s collection with suspicion, thinking we should all dispense with our treasures for good measure.
This was the only time I was ever plastered to the ceiling of the car. No other event in my childhood evoked a similar response. But the phrase (and mental image) always stuck with me. When I get freaked out, someone might need to peel me off the ceiling.
Speaking of Cactus . . .