Country Grammar


I admire those who possess a firm grasp of the English language. Some of my favorite writers and presenters possess the prestigious endorsements of academia. However, some gifted artisans live in plain sight and provide observations obtained only through a blend of hard work and front porch sitting. The front porch sitting is accompanied by iced tea (or coffee depending on the time of day) and lung darts.

My Dad is the latter. I called him earlier tonight, and he used several witticisms that frankly, you don’t hear anymore. I’m primarily writing this to remember them, to reread this 25 years later and smile. However, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy as well.

Most of his expressions describe people, and his phrase to describe someone he holds in high esteem is to say, “they are the berries.” To borrow from scripture, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than it is to earn this distinction from my Dad. He has used this to describe three to four people that I am aware of, including my mother. You have a better chance of being canonized by the Catholic church than earning this honor from my Dad. Most of us fall outside of this distinction, and our flaws are magnified in his descriptive language.

There are tightwads. If you value frugality above social acceptance, you are “so cheap you wouldn’t give ten cents to watch an ant eat a bale of hay!”

Those that possess the gift of gab might “talk so much they’re are going to give their tongue a sunburn.”

However, the aesthetically challenged draws most of his ire. You can be so ugly you:
“Make a train take a dirt road, ”
or “You have to sneak up on a glass of water.”
If you require orthodontic work, he might tell you, “You could eat an ear of corn through a picket fence.” (He only told me this after my braces came off.)

There are nervous people who “blink more than a frog in a hailstorm” or as his friend Vernon Smith once said, ” are as nervous as a hog on ice.” Thankfully, their observations helped me better understand the neurosis of frogs and hogs.

He once told me I stayed up too late at night, and if I didn’t get some sleep, “my eyes would look like cantaloupes and my head a lemon.”

I should probably wrap this up because I’m rattling on like a “skeleton on a tin roof.” My writing skills may not “be the berries,” but my Dad made me smile tonight. Hopefully, he made you smile too.

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