My mom died in 2001 from Alzheimer’s Syndrome. Today would not have been her birthday or the anniversary of her death, but is my parents’ wedding anniversary.

The other night while playing a game, I made a comment to Becky that was a Barbara-ism, and that’s what inspired this post. My mom grew up in rural Louisiana and came away with a ton of colorful sayings that we still use to this day. Although I know what they all mean — that is, in what context they’re used — there are many that I don’t understand at all. Here are some of them:

“I’ll tell him how the cow ate the cabbage!” — this is the one that inspired this list. It’s the equivalent of “I’ll give him what for!” or “I’ll tell him a thing or two!” Once I asked her about this..specifically, how did the cow eat the cabbage? Her response was, “Ate it right up!” and I guess that answers that.

“Come on, Christmas!” — is said when behind someone moving too slow. This one’s pretty obvious. Someone moving too slow also maybe be guilty of…

“Moving like they got dead lice falling off of them.” — Another one I’m just not sure about here. Thankfully I’ve not too much experience with lice, dead or otherwise, so I don’t know the relationship between their vitality and the speed of motion of whatever they happen to be on (or falling off of.)

“You just hide and watch me!” — I love this one. The context for this would be, “I’m gonna eat the last cupcake!” “You better not!” “You just hide and watch me!”

“I will kill him and tell God he died!” — another favorite, obviously a threat. I love the mental image here, of God asking what happened to the guy and Mom telling Him that he died.

“And I do not mean perhaps!” — I use this one a lot. Whatever it is you’re talking about, it’s a certainty.

“She’s so stupid, she couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the directions were written on the heel.” — Another one with a great mental image.

“Cricket pee” — is how she described weak coffee she didn’t like.

and finally, there’s the ever-popular “Shit fire and save matches.” An all-purpose epithet.

Those are the ones I mainly remember. She was a unique woman, no doubt.

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12 Responses to Barbara-isms

  1. Jeff says:

    Hey Dave, I love these, and thanks to you I’ve been using “hide and watch me” and “kill him and tell God he died” for awhile myself. I didn’t remember the piss-n-boot one but I like it.

    Was your mom also the source of the “hell’s half acre” expression? I know I also got that from you.

    Here are a couple my brother got from “the guys at the plant” in Arkansas, and what I understand to be the meaning.

    “He was bowed up like a cutworm.” = The gentleman was angry.
    “Don’t make me take you out to the rocks.” = If pressed, I will endeavor to physically harm you in the parking lot.
    “If you aren’t gonna use your head, you may as well have two asses.” = You have acted foolishly.


  2. Dave says:

    Yes indeed, Jeff. Driving all over Hell’s half acre means you have to go all over town. Hell, apparently, is much smaller than we’d been led to believe.

    Also, “God don’t like ugly.” This is translated as “Payback’s a bitch” or “Karma”.

  3. Blasterhappy says:

    I love those, Aunt Bobby (your Mom) had a million of them as well as Big Daddy (my grandfather, Dave’s Uncle). These actually were all handed down from Big Mom and Pop (Dave’s Grandparents on his Mom’s side). Here is some I can remember….”No bigger than a popcorn fart!” (used when sizing up a person as being weak or small) “I’m so hungry…I can see cornbread walking on crutches” (used when real hungry obviously), “Colder than a well digger’s ass.” (citing it’s pretty cold out). My favorite…”Shittin’ like a pet coon!” (Citing how sick someone is). “This thing will run like a Spotted-Ass Ape!” (How fast a car, motorcycle can go.) “Where are we going?….Hell in a Hand-Basket if we don’t change our ways!”, “Shut-up Aunt Gladis!” (Obviously some Aunt down the line that talked a lot!)
    I loved Aunt Bobby like a second Mom. She let us always be kids and let us know that we didn’t have to rush to grow up.

    Hey remember this……Peter Gabrial’s song “Shock the Monkey” Aunt Bobby renamed it to “Charge Up the Chimp” HAHA!

  4. Sistawoman says:

    Ok. You forgot “Smell’s like a gut wagon” – which apprarantly was pretty bad. I cannot imagine what a gut wagon was or why it existed. You also forgot to include, when asked what we were having for dinner, “Fried farts and onions” which also made me want to save room for a double helping. I am sure there are others but unfortunately I cannot think of any at this time. Perhaps with extended therapy, those repressed memories will resurface.

  5. Blasterhappy says:

    I remember “Fried Farts and Onions” and also “Shit on a Shingle”. Also “Drunk as Cooter Brown.” Don’t know who Cooter Brown was but he must have been pretty drunk. I still use this one today….”That boy can tear-up a bowling ball in a Rubber Room!”

  6. Barbara's husband says:

    What about, “My hair looks like the cat sucked it.”? She was quite a woman and the best thing that ever happened to me. Thanks for this tribute to her.

  7. Dave says:

    It is also possible to have “combed your hair with an eggbeater”.

  8. Sistawoman says:

    It is also possible to have “wavy” hair when one hair stands up and waves at another.

    And we must not forget “What’s up? Chicken’s butt. Grab a spoon and lick it up.”

  9. Barbara's husband says:

    And if you hurried somewhwere, you pole vaulted. Blasterhappy is right, I think, most of these were from Big Mama’s colorful language. This also included:
    “If you nap after dinner but slept on the floor, it did not count.”

    Consisdering that men usually grow a pot belly in middle age, if not sooner, Pop always said, “It is a sorry man who does not build a shed over his tools.” That is one of my favorites.

    All three were wonderful people (Barbara and her parents, as well as Warren (Blaasterhappy’s grand father).

  10. Barbara's husband says:

    I have wonderful memories of Warren, but there are two things he did which should be mentioned here. The word “shit” was a major part of his vocabulary. He made it into a very versitile word. He could make it into every part of speech. Usually it was pronounced as a two syllable word, but if he had a strong sense of disbelief about what you were telling him, it became a four syllable word.

    When his daughters all bought ferrets and the things were running around the house, Warren said, “Them damn things don’t look much like parrots to me.”

    The absolute best cajun saying I ever heard came from none of the above. Some cousins of mine visited my grandmother many years ago. She remarked that their visit was a great treat They explained that some one was coming that way and there was room in the vehicle, etc. etc. The narrative was ended with, “And that’s how come we come to come.”

  11. Barbara's husband says:

    And what about, “I have to pee so bad everything I see is yellow.”?

    Actually “God don’t like ugly.” applies to one’s ways not physical appearance. That was my mother’s saying. I used it a few years ago when the Kennedy plane was lost in the Atlantic Ocean. Some friends were exclaiming about the terrible tragedies suffered by the Kennedy family. I simply said, “God don’t like ugly.”

  12. Blasterhappy says:

    I have always heard…”I have to pee like a Russian Race Horse!” also “He is so full of shit his eyes are brown (by the way dominate eye color in our family is brown….explains a lot! haha!). Here is another…If a person is happy, young and full of life he is said to be “Full of piss and vinegar!” Never quite understood that one. I always liked…”Busier than a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest.” Here is another I remember. When explaining how poor someone was…”They don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of!” This could go on forever!