I like to tell people I’m a “city boy raised by country people.” Mom and Dad were both small town folks with Dad living most of his child hood out in the “sticks”.
In case you’ve never noticed, country folks like to impart little tidbits of wisdom in the form of adages they call “old sayings.” They also get pretty colorful with the English language in general.
I have carried on the tradition of “old sayings” and the like. It has always meant a lot to me. You might say that it all sort of “stuck in my craw”, which would refer to a piece of food or bone lodging in one’s esophageal area.
Ben Franklin liked old sayings. Just about everyone knows about “Poor Richard’s Almanac” where he expounded prolifically on little bits of advice like “A stitch in time saves nine,” or “a penny saved is a penny earned”. Great stuff but not exactly what I’m getting at here.
One of the better sources for this sage language of which I speak was my Dad. He had his own little pearls like, “Boy … I may seldom be right but I’m never wrong.” or “if you’re waitin’ on me you’re backing’ up.” It was the “OLD sayings” that rang my bell, though.
I’d get to moaning about wanting to do something … “Sure wish I could go to that party tonight.” He’d come back with, “Well boy … you might trying wishing in one hand and spitting in the other and see which one fills up first.”
First of all, he was saying no because I had smarted off at him earlier or something but on another level he was teaching me that wishing was never going to get you very far. You had to take action.
It would be time to head home from vacation or somewhere we were having fun and I’d get to grousin’ pretty good. He’d come out with, “My how time flies when your having fun,” that meant the “party was over” and I needed to get on with it and load the car.
I was a good boy over all but could be more than a little headstrong at times. I was supposed to be home by eleven but it seemed like no matter how good a head start I got I’d be a little late. That’s when he’d pull out the big guns … “ Boy … don’t believe cow horns are hooked.” I don’t guess there’s a whole lot of confusion about what that means.
My feelings would be hurt about some girl … “There’s plenty of fish in the sea.”
Somebody would be getting bullied … “First lick wins the fight.” Money would be tight and you’d hear him telling somebody … “Well I reckon “its pork n beans and fatback time.” He’d make a mistake …”No use cryin’ over spilt milk.”
I’d do something clever … “Well, even a blind squirrel’ll find a nut every once in a while.”
It got to where you’d kinda’ look forward to what he was going to say next. He’d be trying to corner me on some issue or another and I’d be a little evasive, “Boy … talking to you’s like trying to catch a greasy pig.”
I couldn’t help but use that a few times about Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky thing. Hey … ole Bill had a pretty good one himself, now that I think of it, with all that “it depends on what you call sex,” stuff.
The thing is, I grew up and left home and I’ll be darn if I didn’t go to using those same sayings. Guys in the Navy use to double over laughing like when somebody would try to get tricky about something … “ Hey man … my momma didn’t raise no fool ya know.”