I was talking with a native Georgia man the other day, an older gentleman in his eighth decade of life on Earth, and he said something to me that made me once again appreciate the humor of American colloquial expressions.
He was telling me about a particularly uncomfortable situation he once found himself in, and he said he felt like a “porcupine in the middle of a balloon factory.”
I had to laugh as I envisioned him all bristled up, popping balloons every time he moved.
The South is rich with humorous ways of seeing life and finding a way of describing it that is funny but accurate. And I say this not only because my lovely wife is a member of the GRITS (Girls Raised In The South), although that has a lot to do with it, as she is prone to articulating
Southern witticisms that are “just cute as a bug’s butt.”
Staying with the butt theme, here’s one you might try out next time somebody does something really dumb, at which time you could say, “If I put his brain in a gnat’s butt it would fly backwards.”
My better half has a favorite saying when she eats or drinks something particularly appealing, which prompts her to say, “That tastes so good I could rub it in my hair.”
Of course, Southern sayings just don’t sound quite right unless delivered with a true Southern drawl, which for most natives is “as easy as slidin’ off a greasy log backward.”
Finding Yankees who can pull it off is “scarce as hen’s teeth.”
The opposite is true as well; a Southern drawl just wouldn’t work in New York if you’re crossing the street and a car almost hits you and you say as you gesticulate wildly, “Hey stoopit, ah yoo blind, I’m waukin heeyah!”
Or if a Southern man goes to Boston, he’d never get away with saying, “I’ll paak the caah in the Haavad Yaad.” It just wouldn’t work.
Come to think of it, I guess most every region across this nation has its own sound. I am from Wisconsin, left there when I was about 20, but I can still tell when I hear someone from there, or really anywhere near there, like Minnesota or Michigan.
There is a nasally quality to the tone, I think from enduring so many cold winters that seem to last most of the year. Think Sarah Palin and you’ll get my drift.
This is not to say that just because you come from a certain region you are branded with that tone. I think it depends on your living environment and life experiences.
I lost whatever accent I had by traveling all over the place in the Marine Corps. My son is a Georgia native, born here, but being around me a lot, he doesn’t seem to have an accent…or maybe I am just immune to it.
I wouldn’t have room in this column to try and list all the witticisms in all the accents and dialects that compose this great country of ours. But I’ll bet many of you parks and rec pros, from right coast to left coast, north to south, even overseas, have some great colloquial sayings.
We’d like to hear from you.
Just hit reply and share them with PRB readers on this Friday morning that is “finer than frog hair.” I know it’s hard generating an accent in writing, but take it as a challenge. And like the best known Redneck, Larry the Cable Guy, says (in his gravelly tone), “Git ‘er Done!”
Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine, who also served until recently in municipal parks and recreation, lives in Peachtree City, Ga., and can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.