The other day my wife asked me to do something, follow up on some project I'd started but hadn't finished. I nodded. "Sure. In for a penny, in for a pound."
Then I added, "I bet you haven't heard that expression in a while."
She looked at me. "Sure I have. I used it myself just the other day. But then, as you know, sometimes I think I'm like a housewife from the 1950s."
I didn't think there was much danger of that. But it did get me thinking. A few months ago I did a post called As My Mother Used to Say . . . which offered some age-old advice about life, love and the virtues of caution, prudence and hard work -- you know, the middle-class values we all grew up with.
I've always said that if we'd only listened to our mothers, and just did what they told us, without question, without arguing, we'd all be better off in life.
But that's not what happens, is it? Anyway, I thought I'd round up some other age-old bits of wisdom, advice, or just quirky expressions -- and see if you remember them, follow them, or perhaps can offer one or two of your own.
For example, remember when someone told you that you were "knee high to a grasshopper" or remarked that someone was "busier than a one-armed paper hanger"?
Today we use the word "meh." But back in the day we were more expressive and said, "Fair to middlin'."
When one of us kids did something particularly stupid my dad would exclaim, "For cryin' out loud!" He also warned us, "Don't take any wooden nickels." And when he got philosophical he'd say, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."
My mother, more of a realist, warned us, "You can't squeeze blood from a stone," and a variation, "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." But her favorite expression was: "The proof is in the pudding."
A teacher in middle school told us: "What's good for the goose is good for the gander." She must have been a proto-feminist.
When we were kids and whining about some horrible injustice, or begging for a treat or favor, we were told: "Go ask your father." Or sometimes, "Hold the phone," or, "Hold your horses."When parental patience wore out, my mother would heave a big sigh and groan, "You sound like a broken record." Or my dad would more likely laugh and say, "Not in a month of Sundays!" Sometimes we'd have to wait, "Until the cows come home."
Following on the farm theme we were also told, usually by a teacher or coach: "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." We knew that "the early bird gets the worm," and some things are "scarce as hen's teeth." Some people are "happy as a tick on a dog" while others won't get what they want "in a coon's age."
I don't remember any specific occasion, but I do know there were instances when I was told: "Make like a tree and leave." Or more forcefully: "Don't let the door hit you on the way out." Or more poetically: "Don't let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you."
Then from another point of view, there was my sister's favorite expression: "Let's beat this pop stand!"
Is that all she wrote? Heavens to Betsy! No way! I'd be a monkey's uncle if there weren't at least six of one or half dozen of another sayings that we can still recall. So . . . a penny for your thoughts!