A Little Too Clear a Comparison

For reasons unknown to any but my hind-brain, I started thinking about metaphors and similes that rural people used to use, and that urban folks might not understand. And a few that need no translation like “We call him Blister because he only shows up after the work’s done.” You might not do manual labor, but you’ve probably crossed paths with that person.

One that stuck in my memory was the phrase, “as cute as a cancer-eyed cow.” Right away you know the speaker is not paying the subject a compliment. Hereford and Hereford-cross cattle are more prone to skin cancer of the face than are darker-colored breeds, so the phrase is used more often when you have a goodly number of white faced cattle. I’d never seen an afflicted cow when I first heard the term. A few years later, I was on the I-40 East frontage road in Amarillo, at a stoplight. A pickup with a livestock trailer pulled up beside me. I glanced over and beheld a Hereford (red and white cow) with a very large and ugly tumor around the left eye. No, not cute at all. There was a large-animal vet nearby, so I presume that’s where the rancher was going.

Another that is very regional is “He lives at 8th and Plum.” Meaning he’s at least eight miles from pave and plumb in the middle of nowhere. I’m not sure anyone now days in the cities says, “I work from can’t see to can’t see,” given how well lit many urban areas are. “Rainin’ like a cow peeing on a flat rock” is another that needs a leeeeetle familiarity with livestock and their habits to make sense of, if you’ve never seen that kind of rain or that kind of, ah, output.


11 thoughts on “A Little Too Clear a Comparison

  1. Needs no explanation: “This isn’t the end of the world, but you can see it from here.

  2. Variants around here are “living in the Tules” (pronounced TOO-lees) after the Tule grass.
    Also, working from “can to can’t” for those preferring a somewhat shorter workday than “can’t to can’t”.

    You can also tell the attitude towards four-footed canids by the number of syllables used for “coyote”. If it’s “koy-YOTE”, the person thinks of them as targets rather than cuddly.

    • For someone who gets right to the point with brutal honesty: “He shucks it right down to the cob.”

  3. And you didn’t even get into the ‘good’ ones… 🙂 Of course this IS a family blog…

  4. Down here it’s “out in the sticks” (NZ, which has -or had- thick forests) or “beyond the black stump” (Australia, which mostly doesn’t have many trees)

    • I’ve heard “out in the sticks” used back east, where there are trees. Also “the North Forty,” which was once applied to a tree-shrouded parking lot . . . west of campus. (It was also called “the boonies” by the campus police, which probably tells you the age of the senior police officers on campus!)

      • I recall Ma coming back from the supermarket amused that while in the checkout line there was a conversation about what some folks were going to do that weekend. “I think maybe I’ll go Up North.” (This was in central WI) And fellow from Chicago said, “I thought I **WAS** Up North!”

  5. Cows are ..aware.. of the surface and will, if they can, AVOID, the flat rocks… they don’t like the spatter either.

    Horses likewise. A fellow had a wonderful team of Belgian drafts… and the new mare would carefully avoid the manhole covers… even with rear legs… until she was VERY tired at the end of the night. And even SHE had NO patience for the yearling or such that had learned the night’s circuit but didn’t know the deviation that meant “rest & go home”… and it’s SOMETHING to see a grown Belgian draft throw her FULL weight around to say, “Cut it out, KID!”

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