Every now and then, you hear a phrase so crystal perfect it makes the ears sit up and the mind tingle the way your skin does when it's licked by a kitten.
Several years ago, ex-Otago and All Blacks coach Tony Gilbert used such a phrase on a flight from somewhere to somewhere else. He was talking about the famous first five Tony Brown.
Tony was one of his favourite players, the coach said, not least because "he's as tough as goat's knees".
Now that is a great compliment. And a testament to the resilience of our hard and hairy traditions that it still resonates, even after years of rambification imposed upon us by the social engineers in Wellington.
Another sporting fellow, some Aussie league chap, offered an equally apt expression this week.
Asked how he felt after Mad Monday - the end-of-season leer-up for all the teams except those in the grand final - this sad and hungover gent simply said he was "in a box of hurt".
Which is pretty much exactly where a whole bunch of folk in Wall Street and Washington were as well about the same time; because, of course, they'd had a Mad Monday of their own.
Given the relatively simple task of saving the world and ensuring financial peace in our time, the noble US House of Representatives somehow managed to drop the ball and bomb a certain try.
It turns out there are elections in a month. And many of the steel marshmallows in Congress had copped a spray, as the league commentators would say, from their constituents, who weren't happy about fat cats getting handouts from Uncle Sam.
Acutely aware this displeasure could be reflected in the ballot box and mindful of how this may affect their access to such baubles as are bestowed upon elected persons in Washington, these cowed and earbashed creatures demonstrated they have absolutely nothing in common with the knees of your average goat.
As fat cats fell like hail from the upper storeys of Wall Street skyscrapers, they voted to save their own skins and to hell with the economy.
There's something strangely comforting about this, if only because it demonstrates the reliable consistency of human nature.
Just like the oft-condemned and much maligned financial wizards who'd precipitated the crisis, the men and women of Congress had, predictably, put self-interest first.
As most of us do almost all of the time. That's why we have moral codes. It's why the exceptions to the rule are so notable. And why they privately shame us - just a little - when drawn to our attention.
Like it or not, disquieting as we may find it, self-interest is what drives human behaviour.
We're big enough and ugly enough to handle that, surely?
We don't need to drag ourselves down in a grapple tackle of guilt.
Especially since it's not all bad. Self-interest does have its virtues. It probably explains why we survived the evolutionary war and Homo Notsosapiens.
Indeed, there was a 19th century Anglican bishop who argued that enlightened self-interest - doing what's good for you provided it's also good for other people - was the basis of moral society.
It certainly would have avoided this financial calamity, which can actually be traced all the way back to Henry Ford.
His decision to pay his employees enough to buy the things they made did more to emancipate the working class than any theory ever developed by bearded German persons in London.
Simply by making his workers his customers, Ford triggered the 20th century's explosion of choice, opportunity and goods.
From which we have all benefited. Except, of course, as ever, there was a snag. Wages are a finite thing.
If the consumer boom was to continue, something else was needed.
Enter credit - which is really just wages in advance. Except, of course, once again, there was a snag. The wages may not be advanced.
Poor old Fanny Mae not being able to pay for the things acquired on tick, either because the wages have gone or were never enough in the first place.
As someone sagely said about 2000 years ago, a house funded on sand cannot stand.
What that someone didn't say, but could have, was that anyone with a scintilla of enlightened self-interest, not to mention an appreciation of history and some understanding of human nature - in other words, the sort of tosh they never teach in MBA classes - would have known that. And acted accordingly.
But they didn't - hence the mess, the meltdown, the fiscal conniption that has seized us by the throat.
Although not for long, you'd imagine. It's entirely possible, by the time you read this, that the courageous souls in Congress will have succumbed to the lobbying of other, more forceful folk.
Some face-saving deal will have been done to save the world and preserve self-interest.
As the old phrase has it, "You can't make an omelette without banging heads."
Who was it that said that?