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Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle

By From page A2 | January 30, 2013

Have you noticed that old sayings are disappearing? Remember all those simple, folksy old sayings that our parents and grandparents used to say? And then we’d repeat them, even though we really weren’t sure what they meant, or how they originated.

For some reason, this latest younger generation isn’t carrying on the tradition of using these phrases. Maybe it’s because they sound so old-fashioned. They sound so behind the times. They sound so . . . weird.

Let me give you an example: You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Most of us know that it means you can win people over to your side by friendly persuasion rather than by being hostile. But you don’t hear the younger folks saying it, and maybe it’s because they’re taking it too literally. I mean, if you think about it, why would you want to catch flies? And if you did want to, would you really even consider using vinegar?

Here’s another example: She had a conniption fit. We know what a fit is, but what the heck is a conniption? Kids have their own text-language nowadays. Instead of saying “she had a conniption fit,” they’d just say, “She went all Hillary.”

Now, “I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck” and “you can’t pull the wool over my eyes,” but it all just puts me at “the end of my rope” and “madder than an old wet hen.”

I remember my old grandpappy used to say, “If the horse has buck teeth, then go jump in a gopher hole and pull the cheese wheels out of your nose.” To this very day I still have no idea what that means. Then again, grandpappy did drink a lot of whiskey.

Every “once in a blue moon” I’ll go “off the wagon” and have “one for the road” and be “out like a light” and wind up on “cloud nine.” Does anyone under the age of 30 use any of these expressions and idioms anymore?

Now I’m not talking about old sayings like “too many cooks spoil the pot” or “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Those are more like proverbs. I’m talking about the homespun, country sayings. You know, the kind of sayings that only old fogeys use. And by the way, just what is an old fogey? On a lark I’d give one red cent to find out. It’s really got me over a barrel.

It’s like my old grandpappy used to say: “If the well runs dry, don’t twist my suspenders if’n the garden gnomes steal the rooster’s eyelids.” I’m still not sure what in tarnation the old codger was talking about, but he was sure as Shinola about it.

There are many old clichés that begin with the word “holy.” Holy moley. Holy smoke. Holy Moses. Holy cow. I can sort of understand a few of them, but I’ve never understood why someone came up with the phrase, “Holy mackerel.” I always thought that maybe it had something to do with some sort of fish religion.

I’d say that if you’re over 40, then you know that if your goose is cooked, then you were probably doing too much monkey business while trying to keep up with the Joneses, whoever they were.

Back in the roaring 1920s, they came out with these: the cat’s pajamas, killer-diller, hotsy totsy, and how do you like them apples. And if something was swell, then it was the bee’s knees. Why it was the bee’s knees is anyone’s guess. Do bees even have knees?

If a child was just like a parent, then the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. If someone was a good liar, then butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth. If someone was ambitious and hardworking, then they wouldn’t let grass grow under their feet. If they were ugly, then they could make a train want to take a dirt road. It was poetic speech, really, and it’s getting lost. I miss it.

It’s like my grandpappy used to say: “Dust the chickens off your goiter and spank the hogs before the gypsies get your flapjacks.” Then again, he did drink a lot of whiskey.

Anyway, I guess you can stick a fork in me. I’m done.

If you’ve got some hullaballoo and horse feathers, you can reach the flabbergasted C.W. Plunkett at [email protected]

C.W. Plunkett

C.W. Plunkett


Discussion | 24 comments

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  • FibberJanuary 30, 2013 - 9:27 am

    Holy Toledo! CW. Sounds like your grandpappy was as screwed up as Hogan's Goat, but I guess I don't know Pea Turkey about it. Time for me to Hit the Hay.

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  • C.W. PlunkettFebruary 02, 2013 - 5:51 am

    He was definitely off his rocker, Fibber... especially when he was two sheets to the wind...

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  • Hoo Doo write so well.....U DoJanuary 30, 2013 - 3:15 pm


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  • C.W. PlunkettFebruary 02, 2013 - 5:57 am

    You're too kind, Tammy... and thank you! :)

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  • The Monkey - Dave BartholomewJanuary 30, 2013 - 3:22 pm


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  • Hook Line And Sinker .January 30, 2013 - 3:34 pm


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  • Treat your cat sweetly!January 30, 2013 - 3:49 pm


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  • Hoodoo Lady BluesJanuary 31, 2013 - 8:45 am


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  • Minnie The Moocher 1930January 31, 2013 - 8:50 am


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  • The Blues Brothers MinnieJanuary 31, 2013 - 8:56 am


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  • The SugarJarJanuary 30, 2013 - 5:38 pm

    Fun column, Mr. Plunkett. Brought some of the sayings I heard growing up to mind--that my grandkids would need translated... :)

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  • C.W. PlunkettFebruary 02, 2013 - 5:56 am

    Hahaha.... yeah, mine too SG. Mine too...

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  • Rich GiddensJanuary 30, 2013 - 6:26 pm

    Today's skulls o' mush aren't interested in yesterday's cliches when they can't even speak or write the English language to begin with. No, today's kids are more interested in violent video games and mindless rap "music" where every other word is vulgar.

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  • C.W. PlunkettFebruary 02, 2013 - 5:54 am

    It's definitely a "different" generation, isn't it Rich?

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  • CD BrooksJanuary 30, 2013 - 7:32 pm

    Good stuff CW! I don't swear around my grand kid so my uses of holy cow, holy mackeral and good grief sound much better when they repeat them!

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  • Oh.......Mr. Brooks!January 31, 2013 - 10:44 am

    WTCluck free to swear around/at me CD hell everybody else does.

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  • Henny Penny..U know I triedJanuary 31, 2013 - 1:22 pm

    deleteing this twice...should have been feel free to ect...

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  • C.W. PlunkettFebruary 02, 2013 - 5:53 am

    Haha Chris... yes, we don't want them repeating "those" words... :)

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  • ludhabtd..zone..zen out to this....relaxFebruary 01, 2013 - 7:48 pm


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  • likeyoudon'thaveanythingbettertodo..tanked monkeysFebruary 01, 2013 - 7:59 pm


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  • GrannyFebruary 02, 2013 - 3:51 pm

    Well hold your horses and fluff my pillow and bed me down for the night, I've been rode hard amd put up wet if this isn't the best Plunkett column ever!

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  • GrannyFebruary 03, 2013 - 12:28 pm

    You sure did tickle my fancy Plunkett with this column! As I always say...When the Donkey brays, the Goats will play and the Rabbits will come a'hoppin!

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  • Tiger by the TailFebruary 04, 2013 - 3:45 pm


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  • Should BA Line Dance for Fiesta Parade?February 04, 2013 - 3:52 pm


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