“You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.”
At least, that’s what that mysterious group known only as “they” always tells us. Of course “they” say a lot of things that don’t always make sense.
Why can’t one have your cake and eat it, too? After all, when someone serves you a piece of cake, you have it. You have to have it, in fact, before you can eat it. So what kind of mind game are “they” trying to play here?
The phrase, of course, means, “You can’t have it both ways,” and most people seem to understand what’s being communicated.
A more appropriate version of the phrase is one I heard years ago on a modest little romantic comedy called Micki & Maude, with Dudley Moore. Moore played a television reporter, and when a producer (portrayed by Richard Mulligan) tries to tell him he should choose either his wife or his mistress once and for all and then says, “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too,” Moore corrects him:
“It’s ‘eat your cake and have it, too.’ To have your cake and eat it, anyone can do. To eat it and still have it, that’s the trick.”
You have to admit that it does make sense when you think about it. And if you’re like me, now you’ll always think about it!