April 13, 2014

There's no saw like an old saw

If I ask you for an old saw, what would you do?

Would you show me a hand saw, a cross-cut saw or some other antique cutting device? Would I be satisfied? Not in this instance. I already have lots of old saws like that.

The kind of saw I’m referring to involves sayings your mother uttered and her mother before her.

“Put on clean underwear with no holes in case you’re in an accident on the way to school and they have to take you to the hospital.” Remember that one?

Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own old saws.

“Stop that crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” “Keep making that face and it will freeze that way.” “Look at that dirt behind your ears.” “Just give it some elbow grease.” “You just gave it a lick and a promise.” “Make do or do without.” “Your meat might be tough, but it’s tougher where there’s none.” “You look a little off kilter today.” “Don’t pitch a conniption fit (or a hissy fit).” “Mind your Ps and Q’s.”

By now, you’re coming up with your own. This is by no means an exhaustive list. It’s meant only to “grease the squeaky wheel.” My mother’s Puritan spirit would never allow her to say it, but others might tell you to “pound salt (or sand).” That might come with a detailed explanation about where you should pound that particular substance.

Several folks have told me about their own references to the phrase “I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.” I can understand the origin of some of these, but others defy my ability to trace them to anything reasonable. “I’ll put the kibosh on that” is such an example. What the heck is a kibosh?

Text Only | Photo Reprints