Sometimes the darndest things take me back to my earliest years. Things like seeing a grasshopper.
Last week we went for a hike in a nature preserve area about 40 miles west of our house. A particular stretch of the trail was awash with grasshoppers. There were so many, we had to watch our step lest we crushed one as we walked. I snapped a picture of one before moving on:
After seeing the grasshoppers, I recalled an old saying of my late uncle. He’s certainly not the only person I’ve ever heard use it. It’s a fairly common expression in the south:
“I remember when you were just knee high to a grasshopper!”
This is one way of telling a teenager or young adult that you remember when they were just a toddler. As I thought about this, I was reminded of how many unique colloquial expressions we southerners use that are not often familiar to Americans who reside points north and west of us. So here’s your Southern idiom education edition of my Friday Faves.
Most of these I know well, but I went to Southern Living to have my memory jogged about some I may have forgotten or even never known. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all hail from the deep south, but I’ve spent my entire life in the melting pot that is the Sunshine State, so there are a few I haven’t heard:
- He ain’t hit a lick at a snake in years. (Translation: He’s lazy.) I know this one well. My Texas-born step mom is fond of this one.
- I’ve got a Champagne appetite on a Kool-Aid budget. ( Translation: I want more than I can afford.)
- Well, butter my backside and call me a biscuit! ( Translation: Well, I’ll be dang!) There are many renditions of this one.
- People in hell want ice water, but that don’t mean they get it. (Translation: You don’t always get what you want.)
- Whatever cranks your tractor. (Translation: Whatever makes you happy.)
- He/she really cranks my engine (Translation: A romantic interpretation of the aforementioned expression)
- That girl ain’t wrapped tight! (Translation: she has a few screws loose, elevator doesn’t go to the top floor, is slightly unhinged)
- Well, the lights are on, but ain’t nobody home. (Translation: see above)
I could go on for quite a while with these, some of which range from slightly comical to outrageously inappropriate. But we Southerners? We know how to turn a phrase, no?