My mom used to say this when the car wouldn’t start, when something got spilled on the floor, or when she had her fill of a whiny child. If you were badgering her, with little to no response, a sudden and explosive ‘Good Gravy!’ was your warning sign to skedaddle on out of there and try a different approach later. I’m sure I could Google the origin of this saying, but I like the mystery of it and my imagined origins are probably more fun than the real thing. I try to sneak in a ‘Good Gravy!’ every now and then, but I’m usually more amused at the opportunity to use the expression than aggravated by the situation.
“You can only spend it once,” she would warn when we had allowance or birthday money burning a hole in our pockets. She had so many sayings. ‘For crying out loud.’ ‘Tomorrow is another day.’ ‘Home again, home again, jiggity jig.’ She also used to sometimes say, “It’s like a sock on the mantel.” She got this expression from her mother and it was used to describe something that is clearly out of place, but has been that way for so long that the people that see it all the time don’t notice it anymore. When someone new is introduced to the situation, they have a what-the-heck? reaction. It may seem there would not be many occasions to use this phrase, but you’d be surprised. No one knows what I mean when I use it though, so I usually have to use the plain Jane expression, ‘What the heck is that doing there?’
I did try to Google this old time family phrase to see if there was an origin, but the only other sock sayings I found were ‘put a sock in it’ and ‘sock it to me.’ Notable inclusions for this week’s musing, but not what I was looking for. However, I’ll take that as an opportunity to segue into phrases that are a flash in the pan. Groovy? Can you dig it?
I’m not a good judge of what is an enduring catch phrase. I’m still saying, “That’s cool,” but does that mean it’s an enduring saying, or that I’m getting to be an old lady that uses throwback slang? What makes an expression endure? Why does an 80s adjective like ‘tubular’ come and go quickly, but a gem like ‘that sucks’ have staying power?
I’ve become fond of some old-school expressions I’ve been exposed to over the years. I still remember my eighth grade teacher, Mr. Radowski saying, “Smart alecks are a dime a dozen and we don’t care for any of them.” You can make a correct assumption that there were a few in my class. He also used to say, “Six of one, half dozen of the other” to indicate that your choice between two things didn’t really make a difference. I still use this today.
Another old expression I still use came from my first HR mentor. When sticky notes were invented (yes, I worked in an office before sticky notes) she declared, “These are the greatest thing since Moby Dick was a minnow.” Another influential figure from my manufacturing days was our first Plant Manager. I can still hear him saying, “That’ll go over like a fart in church.” He had many colorful expressions, and although they were fun and I’ve used many of them over the years, I don’t know if there are censorship rules with blogs so I’ll assume I shouldn’t use them here. Suffice it to say, my mother never used any of them.
When I was in my 30s, I worked with an older guy that had served during World War II. He used to talk about taking a broadside salvo at something we were targeting, he would ask me what my dance card looked like when he wanted to know if I was available for a chat, and sometimes when we weren’t sure what would happen he would say, “It’s a pickle drop.” I’m still not really sure what that meant or how it applied. My dad, also a WWII vet, used to use the term ‘do your duty,’ mostly when he took the dog outside. I hated that expression, perhaps because I thought he was saying, “do your doody” and that it specifically pertained to number twos. Anyway, that one still makes me cringe.
Some expressions have become better known by their acronyms, in part due to texting. TMI (too much information), BFF (best friends forever) and YOLO (you only live once).
But sometimes it is the sentiment, more than the expression, that is enduring. My sister mentioned that she used to like the expression ‘Keep On Trucking.’ It’s a good one. The millennial generation that grew up with Finding Nemo expresses this as ‘Just Keep Swimming.’ In truth, what else can we do? But one thing is clear, people like these catch phrases. They amuse us, motivate us, and remind us of people places and gentler times.
I’d be interested in any comments you have regarding sayings that have struck a chord with you over the years. Signing off until next time. SWAK