Jokingly, I sent him an initial message that said only,
"The dead yet live!"
Naturally, I was certain he'd understand what I meant, that he had been "socially dead" but was in fact was still very much around.
But he didn't, and replied with a stunned "Huh?". I quickly explained what I mean, and the conversation continued from there, no harm, no foul.
Later, however, I was left wondering how he could not have gotten the reference, which is obviously some deep-seated phrase from, say, the Bible, ancient poetry, or some great work of English literature. I mean, it felt so commonplace to me that it had to come from such a universally familiar source.
It bugged me enough that I finally looked up the phrase to find out that it's apparent source wasn't quite as "universal" as I'd assumed:
*Sigh*. Detective #471. Of course.
Oh, the phrase must have surely appeared in some other book before this, but nevertheless, this was unquestionable where'd I'd gotten it, since I remember buying this book when published.
Yes, I was quoting a comic book cover (and a rather hokey one, at that), without realizing it, as if it were the Bible. Having done it knowingly might have been marginally cool; being intentionally geeky has it charms. But being so geeky as to have no idea when you're being geeky? Substantially less charming.
I might take some small comfort in knowing I'm not the only one of us who's made this kind of faux pas. Have you ever unwittingly made a comic reference that met with confused silence from the audience, and then later realized with chagrin exactly what had happened?
If so, please share with me -- with us all -- your story... .