We all use them. Whether you know what they’re called or not. I’m talking clichés, idioms, metaphors and similes. Southern language is filled to the brim (see what I did there?) with things that don’t make any sense at all but make perfect sense at the same time.
My aunt has always been full of random sayings that I never knew where they came from, who said them first or, for a few of them, what in the heck they meant. Since I’ve hung around her since I was young, I’ve picked up on these sayings. And there are MANY times I’ve taken for granted that someone would know what they meant.
A few years ago, I threw one into a casual conversation at work and a coworker was like “WHAT?!” She encouraged me to start writing them down (and now when I bring up one that she hasn’t heard she’s like “WRITE IT DOWN!”). I’ve also added to the list some additional ones I’ve heard over the years from various people in my life — coworkers, friends, family, etc.
Here are a few of my favorites and a brief explanation on their meaning, as I interpret it. These are my favorites that are appropriate for mixed company — of course, depending on your preference, you could always spice some of these up!
Shaking like a dog trying to poop a pineapple/peach pit. A way to describe how hard you’re shaking or shivering. Imagine how a rough textured pineapple or peach pit would feel coming out of your sensitive places!
Usage: When I was trying to thread a sewing needle, I couldn’t get the thread to go into the eye because my hands were unsteady so I said, “I’m shaking like a dog trying to poop a pineapple.”
Worthless as teats on a boar hog. Since a boar is a male and doesn’t feed the piglets, the teats that they have are purely decorative, therefore, they’re useless.
Usage: Several weeks ago, I found a cell phone charger that went to the phone I had 3 years ago. So it was unnecessary to keep it. It was useless as teats on a boar hog.
Lost as last year’s Easter egg. Once an Easter egg was hidden and never found, especially a year later… it was lost, not hidden.
Usage: If you’re in a strange town and can’t find your way around. Or if you’re trying to help your child do Common Core math on their virtual classes and don’t understand a damn thing about it…then you’re lost as last year’s Easter egg.
Alternatives: He doesn’t know whether to wind his butt or scratch his watch. He couldn’t find his butt with both hands in his back pockets.
Wouldn’t piss in their ear if their brain was on fire. When you just REALLY don’t like someone and have no reason to worry for their wellbeing or help them out of a bad situation.
Usage: “I can’t stand that woman. I wouldn’t piss in her ear if her brain was on fire.”
Interchangeable with: I’d unplug their life support to charge my phone.
His/her mouth is writing checks his/her butt can’t cash. Some one talks a big game, making threats that they can’t back up.
Usage: When you’re in an argument and someone threatens you. “Look, I’ve got about 25 pounds on you. I think your mouth is writing checks your butt can’t cash.”
Similar to: A barking dog seldom bites.
Busy as a cat trying to cover up crap on a marble floor. When you’re really busy and can’t seem to get ahead. Since a cat covers up their waste with litter or dirt and there is none on marble (not to mention, they can’t get any traction due to the slickness of the floor) it’s like they never get their task complete.
Usage: “These kids and their extracurriculars keep me busier than a cat trying to cover up crap on a marble floor!”
Alternatives: Busier than… a brothel on nickel night; a mosquito on a nude beach; a termite in a sawmill; a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest; a one-armed wall paper hanger; a one-eyed cat watching nine rat holes.
They’re so broke, if it cost a nickel to s***, they’d have to throw up. I’ve never TRULY understood this one, or got a good mental image (or a bad mental image?). My assumption is that it means someone doesn’t have any money, so they couldn’t pay to use the restroom so in order to get rid of waste, they would vomit instead.
Usage: “My cousin’s girlfriend lost her job and he won’t get one. I swear, they’re so broke if it cost a nickel to s*** they would have to throw up.”
I’d rather sandpaper the @$$ of a tiger in a telephone booth. When you REEEEALY don’t want to do something, this phrase is perfect. Can you imagine trying to sandpaper a tiger in a phone booth? The cramped space and the vicious teeth and claws?
Usage: “Ugh…. I’d rather sandpaper the @$$ of a tiger in a phone booth than go to this PTA meeting tonight.”
Interchangeable with: I’d rather slide naked down a razor blade into a pool of rubbing alcohol. I’d rather s*** in my hands and clap.
More screwed up than a screen door on a submarine. Think about it. A submarine has to be waterproof and a screen door is anything but that. Therefore, it’d be pretty screwed up to put a screen door on a submarine.
Usage: “All that rain has our dirt road more screwed up than a screen door on a submarine.”
Slicker than eel s***. You ever touched an eel? The texture of their skin is slimy, slick and slippery. This phrase can be used to describe the traction on a floor, road or a number of other things. It’s also used to describe someone’s personality if they are sort of manipulative or a con-artist.
Usage: “That mechanic charged me almost double what I would’ve paid anywhere else! I swear, he’s slicker than eel s***.”
Alternative: Slicker than snot on a doorknob. Slicker than owl s***.
Some of these make sense. Some of these are colorful. But all of these are pretty dang southern! I’d love to hear even more of these sayings and might feature them in a future column. Follow me on Facebook at Sarcastically Southern and feel free to PM me some of yours or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.