I was watching the national news recently while a southern U.S. Senator was being interviewed. I love southernisms already, and he added one to my lexicon.
He was letting the interviewer know that his vote was in the bag. His way of telling her was to say, “Take it home to Mama!” I love that!
Slap my Mother?
I’m not sure why, but the folks from the south seem to turn a phrase like nobody’s business. They have a way with words that just grabs me. I’m speaking of phrases like, “Well, slap yo’ Mama!” Like that one, many of them don’t actually make sense, but maybe that’s why I like them so much.
When I was a kid, there was a TV celebrity named Tennessee Ernie Ford. He was a singer and all around entertainer. His big line was, “Well, bless your little, pea-pickin’ heart.” I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone whose heart picked peas, but I still loved hearing him say it.
A friend of mine shared one with me recently. He was quoting someone else when he said, “If that don’t light your fire, your wood’s wet!” I can only smile when I hear stuff like that. It just tickles my innerds (sorry).
You may remember Jimmy Dean. If you don’t remember him, you might remember his sausage (which seems to have outlived him). Anyway, I once heard him say, “He’s as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers.” Now, that paints a picture!
Speaking of being uneasy, there’s an old one that says, “She was as nervous as a whore in church.” I can’t seem to relate to that one, but it definitely paints a somewhat different scene for us.
Of course, there’s Flo’s ever popular, “Kiss my grits!” I never really liked that one myself, but most other people seem to love it. It’s just not imaginative enough for my tastes, I guess.
Years ago, I asked a guy from the south if he had lived there his whole life. He immediately shot back at me without skipping a beat, “So far…” I’m still laughing about that little interchange.
Sometime, ask someone from the deep south if they enjoyed their meal. You just might get this answer. “It will make yer tongue slap yer brains out.” I’d say it’s a pretty good meal if it can do that.
I’ve been living in northern Virginia for twenty years, and I’ve found that every once in awhile you can still run into a good ole boy who still uses some of those isms. I figure if I live here long enough, I might even become one of them. Being from western Pennsylvania, I’m short on southernisms (and long on droppin’ my g’s—if you get my drift). I can only hope. A good southern drawl is not easy to come by, and I never seem to remember the phrases when I need them.
Reckon I only got one oar in the water.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]