The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Karl Terry

Don't need a cheat sheet for family's sayings


September 30, 2018

We called them sayings in my family, colloquial quips that made our eastern New Mexico, West Texas language colorful.

As I’ve aged, sayings come to me quicker and quicker. That’s a good thing because pulling people’s names up from the vault of my brain has become slower and slower.

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.

Since my recall of them is getting better and better I’ve stopped looking for the cheat sheet. I believe I can remember enough of them to fill a column. Some of these you’ve all heard, others maybe not.

• “Eat, drink and be merry.” Grandma’s saying before a meal.

• “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.

• “Colder than a well-digger’s ass.” Really cold weather.

• “Worthless as teats on a boar hog.” Of absolutely no use.

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

• “I’m so poor I can’t even pay attention.” As poor as a church mouse.

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

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

• “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Nice try but wrong.

• “He could sell ice to the Eskimos.” A really good salesman.

• “If brains were dynamite he couldn’t blow his nose.” Not too smart.

• “Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.” A smooth operator with all the answers.

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

• “Like two peas in a pod.” Two people alike with similar tastes.

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

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

• “Full as a tick.” Stuffed after a good meal.

• “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.

Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:


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