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"This thing will hang me up if I live to be."

What does this sentence mean? It's from Columbo S02E01. I can provide context if neccessary.

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A little more context, please. –  pavium Jul 25 '11 at 11:53
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I'd go as far as to say that context is always necessary –  Andy F Jul 25 '11 at 12:01
    
@pavium I'll put a clip containing this sentence on YouTube later today. (I'm on my notebook right now, and my video recording software is on my PC.) –  Šime Vidas Jul 25 '11 at 12:07
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Are you sure it is complete? I'm familiar with the idiom "If I live to be (number)" eg "If I live to be a hundred", but not just "If I live to be". –  Colin Fine Jul 25 '11 at 13:23
    
Yeah, this only really makes sense if the number (or some kind of extreme old age) is implied via previous sentences. –  T.E.D. Jul 25 '11 at 13:43
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1 Answer

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Here is the context:

You know there’s something else that bothers me. I was speaking to that little girl next door. And this thing will hang me up if I live to be… Aren’t they beautiful? Hmm? They really knew how to make cars in those days, didn’t they? Will you look at the lines on that car? Spoked wheels. Isn’t this a honey?

It appears that the speaker interrupted himself in the middle of a thought. The sentence would have been somewhat like the following: And this thing will hang me up if I live to be a hundred. What he actually said does not make sense by itself.

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So he basically meant that no matter how long he spent thinking about the problem the answer would continue to elude him. Right? –  Andy F Jul 25 '11 at 14:15
    
Yes, you are correct. –  Daniel Jul 25 '11 at 14:18
    
OK, that's what I figured, but I don't think I've seen the phrase hang me up used in that way before. Thanks for clarifying. +1 –  Andy F Jul 25 '11 at 14:30
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Thanks :) Btw the speaker interrupted himself - Columbo does that all the time :) –  Šime Vidas Jul 25 '11 at 15:18
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