Archive for the ‘things people say’ Category

The banjo story

August 27, 2013

I was at a seminar last night for a cover story I’m writing for the paper.

The speaker said, “You know what they say about Davy Crockett’s hatchet.” It’s that easy to make me feel dumb. Presume I know something I don’t know.

I’m a history nut, and fancy myself a Crockett knower. I stood in the Alamo. I didn’t know he had a hatchet.

What they say is, “At some point the next owner had to replace the handle, then he had to replace the blade. Is it still Davy Crockett’s hatchet?”

This seems like a useful reference. My biological father’s banjo came to mind.

When I last visited him, he told me this story.

He came across a banjo that had been built and owned by some bluegrass legend whose name I would have been impressed with, if I were a bluegrass knower.

The instrument was beautiful. It had great sound. He had to have it.

He put a deposit and saved and finally bought the banjo.

He also ordered some special wood for the rim. There’s a sunken boat at the bottom of one of the Great Lakes. The kind of wood and its 100 years of submersion have given it a magical quality when used as a rim in a banjo. If I understand correctly, banjo owners can commission a guy with a scuba tank to go get some. I doubt I understand correctly.

He also replaced the strings and knobs.

Now, you know what they say about getting new carpet (anybody feel dumb?) — you realize you need new curtains and paint.

Next came a new tension hoop, flange and head.

The end of his story was, “I don’t think it still has any of the parts I had originally saved so eagerly for.”

If the seminar guy had said, “You know what they say about Jan Threlkeld’s banjo,” I wouldn’t have felt dumb.

Mermaids bother me

July 19, 2013

I can’t figure out why mermaids have breasts.

Their reproductive half is not mammalian.

This means they lay eggs and swim away. The babies never know them. There is no nursing.

So what are the knockers for?


June 21, 2013

In honor of Fathers Day I offer you the benefit of my dad’s words:

  • It’s not cold; you’re cold.
  • Turn it down. (He now has a surround sound system I can hear at my house with my own TV on.) (I’m exaggerating.)
  • Speeding isn’t as big a deal as not being the fastest one on the freeway.
  • Don’t breathe when you swallow. (He offers this when people are choking. He’s helpful.)
  • and my favorite, You can’t order what I’m ordering. If we were all going to eat the same thing we could have stayed home, (because identical meals prepare themselves…).

These, of course, are in addition to the classics. I apparently spent my childhood trying to air condition the entire neighborhood.

And yes, I have heard each of these from my own mouth since I became a parent.

Words of wisdom

June 13, 2013

Tessa says, “A mother is only as happy as her saddest child.”

My St. Patrick’s Day joke

March 17, 2013

Every year I tell this joke to anyone who’ll listen:

What’s the difference between The Rolling Stones and an Irishman?

The Stones say, ‘Hey, You, Get Off of My Cloud.”

An Irishman says, “Hey, McCloud, get off of my ewe.”

My dad used to say…

February 11, 2013

Today one of my students was complaining, “It’s too hot in here.”

I told her, “My daddy used to say, ‘It’s not hot; you’re hot.”

Know my my dad says now? It’s hot in here.

Code words

November 20, 2012

When my grandparents didn’t want people to know what they were saying, they would talk in Spanish.

Mostly, it was my grandpa telling Nana not to meddle. He would murmur, “No te metes.”

At some point this morphed into “No tomatoes,” which he didn’t have to murmur.

This is English to us now, for ‘butt out of those people’s business.’

Every New Year’s Nana announces her resolution is remind herself no tomatoes.

She can’t do it. There’s no stopping her from tomatoes.

A new expression

November 9, 2012

When I was a kid, we would say, “Oooh. You got burned!”

When my kids were little, they would say “You got told!”

About a month ago my son said, “Oh! He took your five dollars.”

I thought I knew the root of this, but it couldn’t be. It’s too obscure.

It is. He remembered it, and coined an expression.

Many years ago I told him a joke I am embarrassed to tell you I told him.

Two deaf guys were sitting around. One signed to the other, “What will we do tonight?”

This joke is really better with the visual aid of hand signing, which I do poorly, but which makes the joke better nonetheless. Please imagine signing with this.

“Let’s pick up some chicks and park at the point.” And that’s what they did.

The deaf guy in the back seat tapped the one in the front. With his hands, he indicated a problem — no condoms.

“No problem,” signed the one guy. “I’ll drive us over to 7-Eleven.”

The back seat guy goes in the store. A few minutes later he taps on the front window.

“There’s a problem,” he signs. “The condoms are behind the counter, and I can’t get the guy to understand what I want.”

“Just put $5 on the counter and pull out your penis.”

A few minutes later, tap tap tap.

“Did you get the condoms?”

Shaking no.

Then, with hands: Here’s what happened. I put the money on the counter, just like you told me. Then I pulled out my penis. He put $5 on the counter. He pulled out his penis. His was bigger. He took my five dollars.”

I hope I didn’t offend any deaf people. Blogging blind jokes is probably safer.

Yet another phrase of our own

October 20, 2012

My Unca Rob is flying in for a visit today. I pick him up at dentist appointment time.

If you live at my house, you know this means he lands at tooth hurty.

I tell time in tired old riddles.

If you ask me to do anything at 6 a.m., I will write it down as pig’s tail time. . . ,

. . . because it’s twirly.

Hail talk

September 14, 2012

We used to get hail in Boulder.

The day after a storm was the best day to go car shopping. The inventory was all dented and discounted.

On the news, they always say the same thing. “There were golf-ball size hailstones.”

Jer used to say he was going to open a sports store that sold hail-size golfballs.

Mom’s voice in my head

August 20, 2012

I cleaned my house the night before my birthday party.

Our other house took days to clean. It was like painting the Golden Gate bridge.  I really appreciate having half the space and a more modern home when I clean.

My son came home in the evening, and every time he went into a room, he said, “It looks great in here!”

I used to say this to my mom when the house looked good, but she would always say, “No thanks to you.” So I stopped.

I thought of this, and how nice it was to hear that my work was noticable, and I just said, “Thank you” to my boy.

Mom called.

“Shall I come over and clean your house?”  At 8 p.m.?

“I cleaned it already.”

“Since you got home from work? It can’t be very clean.”

“Well my son came home and said the house looks great.”

“No thanks to him, I’m sure.”

I actually did not see that coming.

Augie cracked me up

July 17, 2012

My boss at the paper used to get irritated with one of my coworkers.

He would say, “Mikkel, one of these days I’m going to put you out of my misery.”

Uncle Jer’s perspective

July 12, 2012

Jer and I were the only ones in the house who didn’t go to bed early, back when we had a houseful.

We would stay up on the couch and channel surf until Beavis and Butthead came on.

Whenever we caught a news item about someone, bandaged and bruised, who survived a crash or heinous injury, an anchor or neighbor always said, “You were really lucky.”

This turned Jer red. He would shout at the TV, “He wasn’t lucky! He was in a major accident. Luck is when the other car misses you.”

Uncle Jer sees things much more clearly than the rest of us.

Driver license

July 6, 2012

My son is getting his driver license today.

When he started driver ed a year ago, we each gave him our biggest piece of advice.

Here’s the collection:

  • Uncle Jer says, “My dad always said ‘At a yellow light, if you can stop, do.’
  • I say, “Be predictable. Expect everyone else to be unpredictable.”
  • My husband says, “Be aware of your surroundings.”
  • My dad says, “Don’t be the fastest car on the freeway.”
  • My Oldest Friend’s husband says, “Always use your indicator.” After some investigating, I learned this is a turn signal.
  • I say, “Don’t drive like Uncle Mike.”
  • What I wish I could say is “Never go anywhere. Stay home with your mama.”

Waxing philosophical

July 1, 2012

My junior-high English teacher used to say, “If you’re bored, you’re a boring person.”

Of course, this was before the Internet, where many boring people kill time.

Not you, though.

I am she who laughs last

June 23, 2012

I got my husband a french press travel mug for Fathers Day.

He hoisted it and my grandfather’s voice echoed in my memory.

Everytime he took his first sip of coffee, he raised the cup in salute and said, “Here’s mud in your yo.”

All my life he said this, and I just got it.

Some people have nothing but answers

May 22, 2012

My mother-in-law is one of those problem solvers.

These people’s social skills are completely dependent on their giving advice. I always seem to know one person who has this personality trait.

When that person moves away, another one comes into my life. I picture a nondescript person on deck, rocking in readiness to advise me.

My mother-in-law must write to every comedian she’s ever seen on TV: Dear Mr. Seinfeld, why don’t you pack your own tuna sandwich when you go to the airport. . . ?

In the movie, “White Men Can’t Jump,” there’s a scene where Rosie Perez tells Woody Harrelson she’s thirsty. He gets her water and she explains to him that she doesn’t want someone else trying to solve her problems; she wants someone to say, ‘I too have experienced drymouthedness.’

Can this concept really be that complicated, if people who watch Wesley Snipes movies can get it?

So last week I’m at my current problem-solver’s house making conversation. I say, ‘I spent the silliest time this morning trying to clean the shower curtain.’

The whole bottom two feet of the decorative outer thing always gets covered with fur.

‘I was sponging the fur off, but, because I was there, so was the dog, so he was putting it right back on.’

I did that burst of exhaling through the nose thing that’s the offline equivalent to LOL.

I was looking for this: Boyohboy, dogs are hard to get mad at when they’re so darn cute.

Or maybe even: Ha ha ha. One time when we had our black Lab….

She said, ‘Why don’t you tuck the curtain into the tub?’

I never know what to do at this point.

I have my reasons for not tucking it into the tub, but I don’t think she’s really asking why. Plus, if I tell her, she’ll give me more suggestions.

In my mind I’m saying this: Lady, you don’t know what the Internet is. You’re not my go-to.

But I just say, ‘Well, I suppose I could.’ And we sit there in silence.

Anyone have any advice for me?

A profundity

March 29, 2012

My high school drama teacher used to say that when you call something ‘stupid,’ you’re really saying you don’t understand it.

I thought this was insightful. I still do.

Everyone else seems to think it’s stupid.

A little more information than you want

March 27, 2012

My husband is celebrating his birthday today, so I’m blogging about one of the reasons I love him so.

He expresses appreciation for everything.

Affection is not excluded.

For our whole marriage everytime we’ve been intimate, he’s said, “Thanks for putting out.”

Not to be out-appreciatived, I always reply, “Thanks for putting in.”