Slicker Than Owl Shit and Other Colorful Southern Sayings...
By Kathryn W. on October 05, 2010
I grew up in the South. I was born in Mississippi, lived for a brief few years in Florida when I was young, moved to Alabama as an teenager, came back to Mississippi for college, moved to Tennessee afterward, and now I've circled back to Mississippi again. Don't get me wrong, I have lived other places for short periods. I have traveled to other parts of the world a few times, and I have loved and appreciated beauty beyond my own backyard, but there is something about the South that always calls me back home. My roots are here, my family is here, and down here I don't stick out like a sore thumb. Most of the time.
In the South, we learn there is always more than one way to do things. There is the proper way, usually taught diligently by a loving parent or grandparent who is determined that you should know the proper etiquette. This is generally the way you do things in church (I was, after all, raised in a Christian family and still stick to my faith, though, I assure you, I am not perfect in it, nor am I a perfect example of it) or at a wedding, or any place that consists of people other than your closest of friends, lest they think you are a complete hooligan. Then, there is the "normal" way. The way most people tend to do things. Then, there is the "country bumpkin" way of doing things. This last way is generally a great deal less proper than the first two, usually involves colorful (sometimes profane) phrases, and is infinitely more entertaining. I assure you I am schooled in all of the above, but the third way is just more fun. Especially when it comes to language.
In the South, the we "bumpkins" tend to be particularly descriptive. I fall into this category because, though I moved around a bit, I was born in the boondocks. It's in my blood. Where are the boondocks exactly? Start heading South, keep going until the pavement turns to gravel and the road is barely wide enough for two cars. Hang a right. Continue until the road gets even smaller and the gravel gives way to a dirt road, complete with deep ruts that a sedan dare not attempt to conquer. That's the boondocks. But I digress.
Before trying to explain something so obviously nuanced and intricate (note the facetiousness), perhaps I should simply illustrate our eloquence.
Proper way to say "It's cold.": "My gracious, it's chilly!"
"Normal" way to say "It's cold.": "It is so cold. I can hardly feel my nose."
And, finally, the entirely eloquent country bumpkin way to say "It's cold.": "It's as cold as a well digger's ass in the Klondike out there!" Or, even, "It's as cold as a witches tit in a brass bra in Wichita in the winter time!"
I will give you a moment to recover from you extreme laughter, or complete horror.
Of course, we have equally articulate sayings about topics other than the weather. For instance, if something is quite slippery, it is "Slicker than owl shit." Just how slick is that? Well, in the words of my own father, "Pretty damn slick."
And if something is EXTREMELY rich and thick, it can be described as "three feet up a bull's ass." Ponder that for a moment.
We also have important words of wisdom to pass along to all who may need guidance in this world. And by guidance, I, of course, mean a huge old fashioned reality check. Precious, timeless gems like "Well, if you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough," and "the only place you will find sympathy around here is in the dictionary."
And while you all know that someone who is caught off guard, and looks a little nervous looks like "a deer in the headlights", they can also be "as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rockin' chairs."
I have no earthly idea where these things originated, but when using a few of these quips in front of people who are not at all accustomed to my way of life, I have been met with more than few quizzical looks followed by "Excuse me?"
You should try it sometime. It's fun.
Of course, don't be fooled by the prim and proper way of saying things in these parts either. That little old lady from who you got directions back to the highway? When she said, "Bless your heart, I know you must be road weary," what she really MEANT was, "You look like hell. Please get off my property before people start to think we know each other."
I am sure there are other sayings from around the country, or even the world, which are equally hysterical and I assure you, I would LOVE to know them. Please pass them on.
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