Issues of great pith and moment were in play. It was a meeting of the faculty senate and my colleagues were discussing the process by which hiring priorities were set by the college. Some professors were piqued that a few senators didn't bother showing up for senate meetings except when their own departments were trying to get authorization to hire new or replacement faculty. They're scarce when less glamorous issues are on the agenda and there's work to be done. One senator attempted to summarize the general sense of the assembly:
“It's a craw in our side!”
My ears pricked up and I twisted in my seat to see the speaker. Oh, good. It wasn't an English professor. But at least now I had something with which to entertain myself while my fellow educators droned on.
What had my colleague intended? I believe he had inadvertently crafted a chimerical amalgam of St. Paul's “thorn in the flesh” (so frequently rendered as a “thorn in one's side”) and the phrase “sticks in one's craw.” It's perfect: We don't know the nature of Paul's thorn and no one in these urbanized days knows what a craw is. The two pieces fit together by virtue of both being obscure, their fuzzy edges allowing my colleague to unconsciously merge them.
Then someone suggested we look at the by-laws to see what we could do about absentee senators and the moment was over.