Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Local color shows in sayings

My wife thinks I just like to embarrass her in public but it’s probably just the way I was raised.

We were out of town in a restaurant recently and while we waited on our food I was busy looking around at all the vintage decorations. You know the type popular in restaurants these days, mostly old or reproduction tin or wood signs.

My eye was drawn to a sign that read: “Eat, Drink, Be Merry.” I told my wife I needed to see if I could buy that sign or find out where they got it if it was a reproduction.

She didn’t understand why and I explained that it was one of my grandmother’s sayings spoken any time we sat down for a meal. It’s from the Bible and evokes lots of family memories.

I tried to buy the sign but no one in the restaurant had enough rank to sell it for what I offered. Good thing because I found the same reproduction sign on for about five bucks less than my offer.

While I’ll have that sign soon, the exchange with my wife got me to thinking about what we called sayings, colloquial quips that made our eastern New Mexico, West Texas language colorful.

My grandmother was good with the sayings and I’ve known lots of other people who could reel them off without thinking. Someone in my family even took the time to write a bunch of them out for the younger generations to laugh at but I’ve mislaid my copy.

I don’t always have that great a recall but when given the time I can remember a few of them. Some of them you’ve all heard, others maybe not.

• “If it had been a snake it would have bit me.” When you finally

find what you’re looking for in an obvious place.

• “Naked as a jaybird.” Usually describing young children after a bath.

• “Well I’ll Swannie (or just ‘I’ll Swan’).” An exclamation of surprise.

• “Sharp as a tack” or “He had his razor soup today.” Complimenting someone’s wit or wisdom.

• “Poor as a church mouse.” Really poor folks.

• “Slicker than snot on a brass door knob.” Pretty slippery or a job well done.

• “Tighter than Dick’s hat band.” A really frugal person.

• “Lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon track.” Dishonest or corrupt.

• “Busy as a cranberry merchant at Christmas.” Very busy.

• “Bless her heart.” Tagline meant to make up for pointing out someone’s shortcomings.

• “Don’t just sit there like a bump on a log.” Get busy

• “Not worth a plug nickel.” Worth next to nothing.

• “Like a bull in a china closet.” Pretty clumsy and uncaring.

• “Cut your suspenders and fly straight up.” Not sure what it means but Dad liked it.

• “Morning Glory, did you see the rain dear (reindeer).” Not sure about that one either.

• “Too windy to pick rocks.” Got nothing better to do.

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