Literally, when you're in the military and you're going away on a mission that doesn't involve signifigant risk of life, e.g. deployed to Germany as opposed to Iraq, but you make it should like you're going to die.
In general, making an impending non-threatening situation sound like you're risking life and limb.
Will: Wanna go to Chickie's and Pete's tonight?
Rich: Damn... I could really go for some crab fries... Well, I'd like to go, but I'm on borrowed time.
Will: Really? Why, what's up?
Rich: I have to clean the gutters in my house. They're filthy.
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