In the right hands, our language can be pretty colorful

Published 7:37 pm Sunday, April 12, 2009

My friend Cal Bryant, this newspaper’s editor, wrote a column recently about the vagaries of the English language.

I thought about Cal’s column this week when a friend referred to his kitchen sink garbage disposal as a “stainless steel pig.” That same friend, explaining someone else’s good luck, once remarked, “Even a blind pig finds an acorn sometimes.”

And then I read a story about an effort by a university somewhere to preserve expressive language like that.

I’ll bet you could help those folks out and provide a few colorful expressions yourself. I think I could, too.

For instance:

* He couldn’t count to 20 with his shoes off.

* He’s dumb as a box of rocks.

* She has the IQ of okra.

* Somewhere out there a village is missing its idiot.

* He’s a lost ball in the tall weeds.

* He’s smart as bait.

* He’s a few peas shy of a casserole.

* He’s got an IQ of 2, and it takes 3 to grunt.

* The cheese fell off his cracker, and he don’t know it yet.

* He’s too lazy to pick his teeth.

* He’s lower than a rattlesnake’s belly in a wagon rut.

* The start of a good day is waking up and seeing the ceiling instead of a lid.

* He’s so slick his socks won’t stay up.

* His family’s gene pool could use a little chlorine.

* He’s smooth as a gravy sandwich.

* If he moved any slower, he’d be going backwards.

* He couldn’t run a two-car funeral on a one-way street.

* He don’t know if he’s washin’ or hangin’ out.

* He went to school to be a wit, but he only got halfway through.

* Don’t try to match wits with me; you’re only half equipped.

* The engine’s runnin’ but ain’t nobody drivin’.

* He has an intellect rivaled only by garden tools.

* He don’t know much, but he leads the league in nostril hair.

* He’d get lost in a round corral with the gate shut.

* A bird in the hand causes a big mess.

* Don’t wet on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

* Figures never lie, but liars can figure.

* I feel like I’ve been rode hard and put up wet.

* Tough as a two-dollar steak.

* Tricky as putting socks on a rooster.

* He’s so ugly he has to slip up on a bucket of water to get a drink.

* He’s got a face that’d make a train take a dirt road.

* Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.

* Whipped like a rented mule.

* Full as a tick on a fat dog.

* Handy as a ladder on a windmill.

* Handy as a pocket on a shirt.

* Richer than dirt in a cow lot.

* Faster than a sneeze through a screen door.

* He could talk a gate off the hinges.

* Every tub has to sit on its own bottom.

* About as tasty as warm calf slobber on a shingle.

* She’s ugly enough to curdle a mud puddle.

* She can’t help bein’ ugly, but she could stay home.

* He’s so crooked he has to screw on his socks.

* Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

* She’s so ugly she has to tie a steak around her neck just to get the dog to come to her.

And, from the good ol’ days when Citizens Band radio was clean and, for many, a family hobby, “Ya’ll keep the shiny side up and the dirty side down, and I’ll see you on down the road.”

David Sullens is president of Roanoke-Chowan Publications LLC and publisher of the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald and the Gates County Index.