Now that we’ve elected and inaugurated a new president, gotten through the holiday rush and we’ve started a brand new year, it’s time, in my opinion, for a little silliness. I think we need to take a break. We’ve faced hard decisions, made tough choices and returned the ugly sweater from Aunt Agnes...it’s definitely time for some fun.
So I’m breaking out the Southern humor card. I hope you enjoy reading these Southern expressions we’ve probably all used and heard our whole lives...
“Kerosene cat in hell with gasoline drawers on.” A colorful Southern expression used as as evaluation of someone's ability to accomplish something. "He ain't got no more chance than a kerosene cat in hell with gasoline drawers on."
"There's more roaches in that house than you can shake a hand full of copperhead snakes at." Any time you want to express an exaggerated quantity of something, you can opt for the copperhead snake comparison. Although you're likely to get a few confused looks from participants in your conversation, it's sure to be etched in their memory.
"I swanee, I've never heard so much ruckus in all my life as I did last night." Yes, swanee is a word used by older, God-fearing Southern women wanting a substitute for "I swear," which is presumably more offensive in certain social circles.
"I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of cloggers." There are variations of this one. I've also heard as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Basically, what you're doing here is going a step further for your listener. You could have said, "Dang, I was scared," but that’s just plain boring. You're going the extra step by producing vivid imagery. You may even be considered a literary genius by some after this poignant delivery.
"That politician is as crooked as a dog's hind leg." No explanation needed here.
"Man, I ain't trying to be mean or anything, but Aunt Brenda is looking rough as a cob lately." When using this phrase, it's preferred and more effective if you wince and shudder. It's a more matter-of-fact way of saying someone is ugly or nasty-looking. Also, however, it can be used to convey how haggard a person looks.
"No, I don't want any more chicken. I'm full as a tick." Yes, you have just brought up images of a blood-sucking mite at the dinner table, but your friends and family get the point. You are a glutton and can feel the food rising in your throat when you bend over to get your fallen napkin. At any moment you may need to relieve yourself by vomiting. Just saying "I'm full" wouldn't have conveyed all this as effectively.
"That's slick as owl crap." The presumption here, of course, is that owl feces are slippery and, consequently, dangerous to those who may be meandering in the forest late at night. But since this one is a bit cruder, don't pull it out in mixed company.
There are numerous expressions we use in my family, and most of them come from my mom. She’s a self-proclaimed country girl, and she’s got a million of ‘em. But I’ll close this column out with my favorite one...I’ll set the stage for you.
My mother’s nickname is Tater. Yep. Tater. I’m not sure who started that one, but on her side of the family, apparently, nicknames are a big thing. I’ve got an Uncle Bug, a cousin Boot, an Aunt Doodle, an Aunt Moopy, an Aunt Monk and... Well, you get the idea. My mom even has a cousin affecionately called Runt. Every in our clan has nicknames. And since my mom’s one of 11 kids (they didn’t have cable), you can bet there’s a lot of names to remember.
I don’t know why the nicknames came about, but as for the Tater thing, I can explain that one. My mother loves sweet potatoes. She’ll eat them any old way you shove them at her, including raw. As a child, I asked her why she loved them so much.
Her reply became my favorite colloquialism and the reason I give for loving Southern humor.
“It’s gooder’n snuff and ain’t near as dusty.”