I’m from and live in the South, so I’m accustomed to, shall we say, interesting idioms particular to this area. I’ve heard and used many Southern expressions, but there are still occasions where someone comes out with something that takes me by surprise.
I’ll never forget the first time I heard what I have since been assured is a common Southern saying (no, I don’t know how I made it this long without hearing it). I was in technical training on a particular software product. You know, the last place you expect to hear certain things. The trainer made a point and said, “It’s all et up like a soup sandwich.”
“Come again?” a few of us asked.
“I said it’s all et up like a soup sandwich.”
“What the heck does that mean?”
“You know, it’s all cattywampus.”
“Oh,” I said, but others still stared.
“What does that mean?” asked one of my coworkers.
“You know, it’s all messed up,” said the trainer.
“So why not just say that in the first place?”
It was an entertaining week.
There is one Southern phrase I use even though I try not to. It once resulted in the following conversation:
“Well, that’s a whole ‘nother thing,” I said.
“I said that’s a whole ‘nother thing.”
“What’s a ‘nother’ ?”
“What you said. It’s another thing.”
“No, you said ‘nother, not another.”
“And what does it mean?”
“Well, ‘it’ is a two letter pronoun . . .”
“No, idiot, what does ‘nother mean?”
“Uh, it’s short for another?”
“You know, I’d almost believe you if you hadn’t phrased that as a question.”
You’d think after nearly forty years of living in the South that I would have heard it all by now. You would think that, and you’d be wrong. I may be used to, “slap the dog and spit in the fire,” and, “hush your mouth,” but nothing prepared me for a conversation I fell into one morning at breakfast.
We were out with my parents and aunt and uncle. Our son was impatient for the food so my mom walked around with him. A man from the next table had been conversing with us sporadically, but I just wasn’t ready for what he said when he spied my son.
“Are you the seed-bearer of that?” he asked as he pointed at our son.
“Are you the seed-bearer of that?”
“Wow, you sure did a good job there. Well done!”
“Thanks.” At least I think that was the appropriate response.
Later he saw our daughter as well and must not have been able to help himself.
“Are you responsible for that one as well?”
“Yes. Well, partially. I had help.”
“Woo boy, you sure hit the target twice! That’s good aimin’ there!”
“Uh, yeah, thanks.”
I wasn’t clear on what I aimed with or at, but I really didn’t want to ask him.
I’d mention “bless her heart,” and “I wouldn’t be one to say,” but that’s a whole ‘nother story.