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Tuesday, Mar. 3, 2015

Fun with idioms from an idiot

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

I began collecting sayings as a child. My dad was famous for saying what all parents utter but keeps children pondering what they really mean. "Stop crying, or I'll give you something to cry about," comes to mind when I think of my dad. I was usually crying because he had spanked me, so I found myself wondering what he could possibly give me that would make me really want to cry.

My mom's counsel when I became dating age was, "Why buy the cow if the milk's free?" To a city child with little experience caring for or feeding cows, it took me awhile to see the intent of this statement. Instead, I would find myself on dates mooing whenever the check was placed on the table. Having been called "pig face" on more than one occasion by my brother, I simply thought my mom was alluding to my size and the infrequency of my dates.

After my children entered school they began to come home imitating their teachers' phrases. I have heard my daughter on more than one occasion say, "We ain't gonna chase that rabbit no more." I know this was just the teacher's Arkansas way of saying, "Don't go there," but I wonder if, the first time he uttered it, students who hadn't been paying attention found themselves looking around the room for a rabbit.

At work, a woman refers to men who are less than chivalrous as "gravy-sucking pigs." She's from a farming area, so I'm sure it has more significance for her, but the image of a male as a pig is sufficient imagery by itself.

My favorite phrase, however, is one I had to write down after I heard it said by a co-worker from Mississippi. I am convinced that had the Civil War been fought with only tongues the South would have won in a month. The co-worker was describing a woman who was a bit homely and said, without missing a beat, "You know, she's so ugly she could snag lightning." This is the same woman who sarcastically agrees to help out: "anything for you, doll britches."

Because I am certain to mess up any saying, proverb or phrase when called upon to deliver it, I admire those who seem to have them ready. My son still makes fun of my saying, "You are just burying it in the dirt, I mean digging it into the ground," only to have him calmly say, "That's drive it into the ground."

My sister-in-law suffers the same malady. A registered nurse, she cut back to working part time when her children were small, but didn't quit altogether. She explained, "I just wanted to stick my finger in it."

So, to all those ugly enough to snag lightning, those gravy-sucking pigs who better stop crying before I give them something to cry about, we just ain't gonna chase that rabbit no more.