How hard is it?
You get bruises taking a shower.
It’s the minerals that hurt when you belly flop into the pool.*
Such mild exaggerations are part and parcel of English language humor, especially what I think of as rural humor.
Some are as old as Noah and the Ark, some as recent as the moment. I was in an airport in southeastern Iowa waiting for a passenger to arrive and a storm line to depart. Several older gents, farmers active and retired, had gathered to drain the coffee pot and pass the time of day. “Well, I knew it’s been dry but I didn’t know how dry,” a voice stated.
I pricked my ears, sensing a great story in the offing.
“Couple of nights back, I was locking up and heard the dogs barking down by the sweet corn patch. I went that way and heard rustling. Do you know what I saw?” Dramatic pause.
“It’s been so dry, the raccoons had formed a bucket brigade and were watering the sweet corn!”
. . . it’s so dry I had to spray my catfish for ticks.
. . . I wouldn’t say its dry around here, but when Noah had his flood? We got two inches.
. . . It was so dry that the trees were chasing the dogs.
. . . It was so dry I had three-year old catfish in the creek that didn’t know how to swim.
. . . the cows were giving dehydrated milk.
. . . it was so cold that the lawyers had their hands in their own pockets.
. . . it was so dark I had to light a match to see the stars.
. . . he was so cheap that he got out of bed to turn over so he’d save war-n-tear on the sheets.
. . . her pants were so tight that I had trouble breathin’. [Only said by men]
. . . the room was so small you had to step out the door to have space to change your mind.
. . . it’s so flat you can stand on a tunafish can and see Ft. Worth.
. . . so rural it’s at 80th and Plum. 80 miles from pave, plum out in the middle of nowhere.
. . . it was so hot the hens were layin’ hard-boiled eggs.
. . . it was so good that if you put a bowl of it on your head, your tongue’d beat your brains out tryin’ to get to it.
. . . runnin’ hotter ‘n a red onion.
. . . cold enough to freeze the balls off a billiard table. [Rarely heard in mixed company]
. . . colder than a well-digger’s hip pocket.
. . . so old she waited tables at the Last Supper.
. . . so old, when he was born, the Dead Sea was only sick.
. . . so ugly, the farmers put his wanted poster on the cows when they got ready to wean the calves.
. . . darker than a thousand midnights at the bottom of a cypress swamp.
. . . so dumb, he cut down his shade tree for firewood. [Usually said in East and South Texas, where shade is needed more than heat.]
In case you wondered, I have an ear for fascinating turns of phrase and regional humor. There are a few phrases I’ve heard that require very local knowledge (” . . .hotter than a Palacios parking lot” for instance. If you’ve not been there in August, you’ve not ‘enjoyed’ hot weather) or historical events (“I’m not sayin’ he got took, but I think he was payin’ for bank robbers and got goat herders” refers to events down on the Border in the late 1800s). Regionalisms and colloquialisms can tell you a lot more about the local culture than all the anthropological studies in the world. And are a lot more fun to listen to, too.
“Mind you, I’m not sayin’ he was crooked, but he screwed on his socks.”
*No joke: I used a dental pick to break chunks of calcite out of the little holes in the shower-head so I could get the fine spray feature working again. They’d gotten plugged solid enough that the seals upstream were giving way and water came out the handle.