I stepped out into the cold to check the temperatures in our hothouses and immediately thought, “Its colder than owl sh!t.” This simple thought took me down a mental path that was “slicker than owl sh!t” and quite soon, I felt “dumber than owl sh!t” as I stepped on an overnight gift left behind by one of my canine children. I was “luckier than owl sh!t” because the gift was frozen solid. I avoided a sprained ankle as my foot rolled over the frozen “Baby Ruth” rather than my ankle. I also avoided the nasty cleanup of my spiffy bunny slippers.
It was colder than owl sh!t and I wished it was hotter than owl sh!t, still. Twenty-three degrees with a light breeze making me shiver despite my heavy coat. It’s November 13, still fall, and the morning low for Nome, Alaska is twenty-four. Crazier than owl sh!t. I know many of you would have said it was “colder than a titches witty in a brass bra” or “colder than a well digger’s a$$ in January.” For some reason my mind didn’t go there.
You can tell what has grabbed the attention of my feeble brain. How did “…than owl sh!t” become such a versatile descriptor and why do I feel the need to insert an exclamation point for the i in sh!t?
I grew up near the sandhills of South Carolina in an area that was cut by red clay and rocky slate. I lived in a farming area and am as “country as a cow patty.” I have spent my entire life in the state including the last thirty-two in the foothills of the Blue Ridge.
What little time I have spent out of South Carolina has primarily been spent in other Southern states. I’ve just had no desire to head any farther north than Maryland. I did head to Nebraska but that was where the College World Series was held. A fine South Carolina institution won it that year. Who am I kidding, I was a Clemson fan and they were there but didn’t win.
I was and am a purebred “country bumpkin”, now hillbilly, with hayseed and lint in his hair and wrapped tightly in kudzu vine. Maybe more inbred than purebred as I think on it. You might even use the term, Redneck.
I only bring up the place of my birth because I have heard about every old-time descriptive idiom one might expect to hear in the South…or at least South Carolina. None work better, in so many ways than “whatever than owl sh!t.” Well “Found under carnal knowledge” probably has more usage but doesn’t seem to have the flare.
“…hotter than owl sh!t” is more descriptive than “F…ing hot” but as I think on it, “hotter than a Billy goat’s a$$ in a hot pepper patch” gives one a much more interesting mental image than saying “it’s hotter than hell.” I just thought of randy Billy goat descriptor, “Hornier than a double di@ked Billy goat,” and the cuter, “As happy as a puppy dog with two p@t@rs.” No more, no more.
Obviously, I’ve slid further down my “slicker than owl sh!t” rabbit hole and it has branched toward more descriptive Southern idioms that come to mind.
An old friend commenting on the current crop of politicians, “My dad always said if you’re going to be stupid, you better be tough.” Yep, and Lyndon B. Johnson put it a different way, “Being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There’s nothing to do but to stand there and take it.” No, I’m not saying LBJ was stupid and it wasn’t an idiom…maybe. I wish our current president would stand there and take it and stay off twitter. No more politics.
My wife’s favorite Southernism describing one of her basketball teams, “You can’t make silk purses out of sow’s ears” shows what a fine lady she is. I have used a similar description to chronical some of my own teams involving chicken salad and chicken ka ka. I’m not a fine lady.
She also informed me after I bloodied my thumb doing something stupid, “If you’re looking for sympathy, you can find it in Webster’s.” I’m guessing she won’t kiss it to make it better and was “madder than a wet hen” as I bled on her floor.
One idiom made me stop and ponder “it was thicker and richer than three feet up a bull’s a$$.” Interesting considering the Baptist deacon using it was describing fine, thick and rich banana pudding at a church social. Somehow this is a good thing? “Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit.” Some sayings defy all understanding.
I began my morning ramble because of checking hothouse temperatures. For some reason, my wife has never found a plant she didn’t want to save or overwinter. It doesn’t keep her from buying more plants in the spring, summer, and fall. A bit compulsive, she has more plants than “you can shake a stick at” and as I await the delivery of our third hothouse I wonder if we are on our way to “more hot houses than you can shake a stick at.” As I said, somethings defy all understanding.
“Shaking a stick at” is an interesting saying and as I researched it was surprised to find out it was first used in a damn Yankee newspaper in the early 1800s, the Lancaster (Pa) Journal in 1818. Well, we certainly kidnapped it. What does it mean? I have no clue except shaking a stick at anything is threatening and my wife’s plants are threatening my good nature. “I’m as anxious as a painted lady in Sunday school.”
Well, I see it is now thirty degrees and today’s temperature is to climb only into the low forties. I’m going to wait until the red alcohol in my thermometer climbs above thirty-two before I go for my morning walk. At this rate, it could be an afternoon walk. I just don’t want to “bust my a$$ because the roads are slicker than owl sh!t.”
If any of you have similar idioms, I would appreciate you dropping them in a comment.
Further ramblings in book form may be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM
The startled owl image from The Daily Record https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/weird-news/meet-worlds-most-startled-owl-6266419
Gif from https://www.theodysseyonline.com/best-southern-sayings Some other good sayings.