How do you describe people? We are in the early phases of electing a new president, Congress and others. We already are hearing and seeing various ways and means of describing those we like and dislike, and I suspect it is going to get much more colorful.
A man named Les Blair, a few years ago, in his book, "Talkin' Dirty," said this: "Farmers and other rural folks live a simple life and learned to express their thoughts and emotions with a graphic regional speech that is both rich and colorful. This simple life influenced them to use few words to communicate, but to do it in such a way as to put their point across in a very vivid and picturesque way."
He also said his book "is not one filled with vulgarity, but was the very simple and graphic expressions used by many rural people." So, for many years, he collected such phrases and I will pass a number of them on to you.
If you want to express boredom, it might be "That's about like watching grass grow."
If you were nervous, it could be, "I'm jumpier 'n a whole truckload a' starvin' kangaroos."
How about this one? "That dress you're wearing is 'bout as sexy as socks on a rooster."
And, this: "Her rear-end looks like two tomcats fightin' in a gunnysack." Colorful?
When giving advice, consider these: "Seems we allus' give advice by the bucket an' take it by the grain," or "You'd best cultivate yer' own garden," or "Call a spade a spade an' dig with it," and "You cain't put one foot in two shoes at one time."
If you are offering comments on the appearance of others, you might try one of these: "You just cain't tell from the looks of a toad how high he'll jump," or "Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is clear to the bone," or "He's so ugly, he hasta' tie a bone 'round his neck to git the dog to play with him," and "He's so ugly, he hasta' sneak up on a glass a' water just to git a drink."
People had a way of evaluating attitude with such comments as: "Yer' 'bout as much fun as havin' jock itch," or "Don't muddy up the well you git water from," or "I'd rather watch grass grow than do that" or "You gotta take the fat with the lean," and "Straddlin' the fence is 'bout like straddlin' the middle of the road."
When judging character, there were a good many colorful expressions. "That feller plows a straight furrow," or "It's hard for an empty bag to stand upright," or "That feller will do to watch," or "Never wuz a good knife made outta bad steel," or "It seems like it's always the weeds that grow the best," and "If you lay with the dogs, you'll end up gittin' fleas."
When evaluating the difficulty of something, they had some colorful ways of saying it. For instance, "That's about like pushin' a wheelbarrow with rope handles," or "That's 'bout as easy as lickin' honey off a' thorn tree," or "That's like nailin' jello to the wall." Or how about this one? "That's 'bout as easy as pickin' fly dung outta black pepper."
Apparently there was some feeling toward others who were seen as having lots of ego.
Listen to these: "Her nose is stuck up so high in the air, I bet she'd drown if'n it come a hard rain," or "If I cud' only buy him for what he's worth and sell him for what he thinks he's worth," or "When a fellar's head swells up, his brain stops workin,' " and "I'd sure hate to pay his taxes if they was based on what he thought he was worth."
When estimating the experience, knowledge or mentality of others, they had some very descriptive ways of expressing it. For instance, "If brains was dynamite, he wouldn't have 'nough to blow his nose," or "He's gotta head fulla' feathers."
They had some descriptive ways of describing extravagance and stinginess, which also were colorful. "She likes to paddle in high cotton," or "I'd like to have their recipe for high livin,' " or "She's as tight as last winter's long johns," and "She's so tight, she squeaks when she walks."
When describing their feelings of any kind, they had some very colorful ways of saying them. For example: "That gal waz so excited, she had to walk sideways just to keep from flyin,' " or "I'm as happy as a clam at high tide," or "I'm so dern glad to be home it made me glad I went," or "I'm as nervous as a porcupine in a balloon factory," or "Hatin' is kinda like burnin' down yer house to kill a rat."
We all know we are facing the 2012 election. Some of these sayings of years ago might become descriptive of what we are going to hear. "All them gover'ment political jobs er' like a septic tank -- all the really big turds rise to the top," or "If you burn yer tail, you just hafta set on the blister," or "This ain't horseshoes -- close don't count," or "The post always wears out before the hole."
For all of these situations, these people had some good advice for living, too. I will end with some of their sayings.
"Don't let the seeds spoil yer enjoyin' the melon -- just spit out the seeds," and "Don't advertise yer troubles -- there ain't no market for 'em," or "Ain't it funny? The worst trouble don't git here," or "Don't git a splinter in yer career as you slide down the bannister of life."
I forgot to give you their sayings about obesity. I'm sure you know it is a factor in today's society and what people are saying about it. Here they are: "She'll never git wrinkled, ever see wrinkles on a balloon?" and "She'd be more spic if she had less span."
Remember, this applies to both men and women.
Arris Johnson is a member of the Generations advisory committee.