“A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.” Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night
I don’t think I’ve ever had an original thought, well there was a quote in the local newspaper after a state championship victory, “I was tighter than a tick on a fat dog.” Don’t know where my quote came from, I’m sure it wasn’t original even though I created it on the spot. Later I heard someone say they were “as tight as a flea’s ass over a rain barrel.”
I had been a bit tense before the game, as in “You couldn’t have slammed a twenty-one gauge needle up my ass with a sledgehammer” tense. Somewhat graphic but you do get the point. Ouch!
I have taken to sharing daily quotes on social media. Quotes that I find uplifting or thought-provoking. Quotes made by other people, smart people, creative people. Everything I am not.
Like many things I do, these quotes lead to other thoughts, down rabbit holes and pig trails, the piling on effect. My meanderings led me to the distinct language we Southerners have created from what was once English. Our slang and sayings we have created from the “King’s English.”
Good Southerner writers seem to have the capacity to turn a word or phrase that means one thing into something else entirely and because I am incapable of original thought, I’ve used many phrases and idioms created by someone else.
I am not only Southern but as “country as a cow patty”. I grew up “over yonder on the edge of nothin’” and moved to a place that is not quite “the end of the world but you can sure see it from there.” I tend to “drop my gees” when I talk and sometimes when I write.
“I was as happy as a dead pig in sunshine” might be my favorite saying and I’ve used it often to describe my first true love. Unfortunately, I was not the little blonde’s first true love…seems she had many true loves, some simultaneously. “You couldn’t stir ’em with a stick.” Despite her somewhat crowded pool of suitors, when she finally gave me “the time of day”, I found myself as happy as a “dead pig in sunshine” for most of our relationship.
If a pig were to die and is left in the sunshine for any length of time the skin will dry out…and it will “smell to high heaven”. As the skin dries, the lips tend to pull away from the pig’s teeth giving the little, porcine feller a smile as if he is quite happy to be dead. In other words, blissful ignorance of reality…yep that was me, blissfully ignorant she was going to crush my heart flatter than “a toad frog on a country highway”. Come to think of it I was blissfully ignorant during most of my romantic episodes.
During many occasions chasing true love, I was as “stubborn as an old mud cooter.” First, the use of the word cooter has nothing to do with its modern-day slang meaning; a woman’s “holiest of holies.” Cooter is a West African word we Southerners appropriated to describe a water turtle.
If you have ever been unlucky enough to hook a snapping turtle while fishing, you will quickly find out how stubborn they are. The old mossy back will head to the bottom and dig in. If they’re big enough you won’t get them off the bottom until they run out of oxygen and come up for air. If you are willing to wait until that happens and land him without losing a body part, there is the possibility of eating cooter stew, not really “eating high on the hog” but delicious none the less. If not, you just have to cut your line and move on. When it came to love, I never really knew how to cut my line…or my loses. That has nothing to do with “fish or cut bait”, cus it ain’t Southern.
“A blind hog can find an acorn” or “capture lightning in a bottle” as I did when I met Miss Linda thirty-five years ago. She and I do get “catawampus” on occasion, but mostly I’ve been “sugar in her hand.” Yep, I have been “sh@#ing in high cotton” nigh on to thirty-two years of matrimony. Maybe you can make “silk purses out of sow’s ears” after all.
“Bless your (his/her) heart” is a bit more diverse and complicated. It is a phrase that can be used as sarcasm while gossiping about some unfortunate, “Well bless her heart. If her brains were gunpowder she couldn’t blow her nose” or face to face, speaking in a slow drawl to a friend, “Bless your heart you are ’bout as smart as a sack of rocks.” It is rumored to be the Southern Baptist lady’s equivalent of f@#$ you…rumored now, I don’t know for sure.
A major problem with “bless your heart” is it can also be used in a loving and sincere manner. “Oh, I heard you lost your pet goldfish. Bless your heart can I bring you a casserole or some potato salad?” It’s all about inflection and yes, I have heard it directed toward me using every inflection possible. Being Southern I’ve eaten a lot of casseroles and potato salad too.
“The phrase ‘bless your heart’ is like chicken and waffles. It can be sweet. It can be spicy and it’s perfect for any situation.” It’s A Southern Thing https://www.southernthing.com/bless-your-heart-is-all-about-the-tone-2581652582.html?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2
For more musings or a book or five, https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM
The image is from Amazon.com