- Always wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident.
- Money doesn't grow on trees.
- Wait 'til your father gets home.
- If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times.
- Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about.
- This hurts me more than it hurts you.
What sort of sayings, colloquialisms, or proverbs did your family say when you were growing up? When were they used? What do you find yourself saying that you vowed you would never say? What do you say that drives your kids nuts? Is there a regional aspect to your speech? Do you have an accent and were you ever teased about it?
My parents didn't say the more common cliches, but our family definitely had unusual sayings!
- Always take your purse so you'll have some identification in case you are in an accident. My mom never worried about whether my underwear was clean; she just wanted to be sure they could identify my body! She fretted about car wrecks - probably because her mom was hit by a car while riding a horse and also because she and my dad had some friends killed in a wreck when they were in their early twenties.
- I'm going to throw you in the country club ditch. My dad said this a lot when he was teasingly aggravated with us. We lived across the street from the back side of a golf course/country club. (It was nothing fancy or high dollar.) A huge ditch - almost like a small bayou - rimmed that side and that was what he was referring to. I don't know what made him think of that, and I never worried that he actually would. Besides, unless we had gotten a lot of rain, there wasn't any water in it!
- Well, I'll swan (or) I'll swanee. This was one of my paternal grandmother's hallmark sayings when things surprised her or didn't go well. I remember her using it most when she was playing 42 or Canasta and didn't like the domino or card that she drew.
- I'm going to send you off to shuffling school. My dad said this a lot when he was playing 42 and didn't like his hand!
- It's a special occasion! When I was little, I loved "special occasions" because it meant I got to stay up late or have some other privilege that the older siblings had. I could make a special occasion out of anything and often told my mom "it's a special occasion" in order to lobby for the special privileges for the most minor reason. The saying eventually became a bit of a joke in our family.
- Fixin' to. This wasn't unique to my family, of course. In my first job after graduating from nursing school, one of my coworkers (from Wisconsin) used to give me a hard time about this. She thought it made no sense. To her, fixing meant you're repairing something!
- Feeder. This is what Houstonians call the access road on the side of the freeway. I've never heard it said anywhere else!
- Second joint. This is the thigh of a chicken. My maternal grandmother thought it was indelicate to call chicken parts by their anatomical name. So we had second joints, white meat (the breast), and of course, the drumstick. I've never heard anyone but my maternal extended family say "second joint."
- Veal cutlets. This one came back to bite me when I was grown. This is what my mom called tenderized cube steaks. She got these on "special occasions" when she didn't want to serve the tougher round steak that she usually used for chicken fried steak. The problem came when I had graduated from college: I was making dinner for a guy I wanted to impress so I decided to buy "veal cutlets." But my grocery store didn't carry them. I finally found a little butcher shop that had (real) veal cutlets. I knew when I saw them that wasn't what my mom had fixed. (Plus they were about $15/pound!) Moral of the story: be sure your kids know what the real names of things are before they grow up and leave the house!
- I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week. Both of my folks said this, usually when they were mildly aggravated with us.
- Stop crying or I'll give you a spanking. This was my parents' version of "I'll give you something to cry about." I always thought to myself, "A spanking will just make me cry more!"
My maternal grandmother also didn't allow people to say "I'm full;" she thought it was rude So my granddaddy, who was a lawyer, came up with this for the grandkids to say;
Most of the time we just shortened it to "I've had a sufficiency." Now you know something that only my siblings and cousins ever knew!
I've had a sufficiency
Any more would be superfluous
And prove very deleterious
To my corporal mechanism.
The one thing I always hated my mom saying was "That's disrespectful" when she scolded me for being sassy or talking back. I don't know why it bugged me so much - something about the tone in her voice. I've cringed when I've caught myself saying that to my kids!
I've always had a southern accent; actually, it's an East Texas southern accent. I didn't realize how much of an accent I had until I went to college and my "northern" (from Dallas!) friends teased me about it. They used to ask me to count to ten just so they could hear me say "neye-yun" (nine). As a result, I really worked on how I said things and my accent's not as bad as it was, although I'm sure it's still there.
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