Our relationship started like most, all over each other like “white on rice.”
John would pick me up in his 1966 blue and white station wagon and borrow a one-liner from his dad, “You look finer than frog hair.” We’d eat dinner, dance at a local club and usually end up parked behind his dad’s service station, “playing smushy face.”
John worked with his dad who everyone called EL (Everett Laverne or Ever Lovin’ – you choose after reading this). John pumped gas, took apart Volkswagen engines, and continued to be shaped by his dad’s sayings.
When I’d drive off after visiting them at work, particularly on a date night, I’d roll down my car window so EL could tell me, “Be good. If you can’t be good, be careful. If you can’t be careful, name it after me.”
Our wedding in a nutshell was the day John “bought the cow because the milk wasn’t free”. EL was there for us after we married, with cooking advice for me, “I wouldn’t eat that with your mouth,” and counsel to John if he wasn’t acting husbandly, “Smooth move, Ex-Lax.”
We were confident when we had children EL’s words would live on and influence them as well. Both times I was pregnant, he said, “You look like you swallowed an air hose.” If he hadn’t told me, who would?
In the kids’ younger years, he saved our son’s life, “You’re starving the boy to death. He’s so hungry he could eat the north end out of a southbound mule.” He saved our daughter’s social life, “If you keep cuttin’ her bangs that short she’s not gonna die, she’s gonna ugly away.”
John quoted his dad during our kids’ elementary school years. When enough was enough, he told them, “I’m going to beat you like a redheaded stepchild.” Every kid knows that’s a bad spanking. If they cried about not getting their way, John said, “I’m going to give you something to cry about.” And if they were good, they were “gooder than goat grease.”
He relied on his dad’s insights during the more-trying middle school days, when the kids whined, “Why can’t I? Everyone else is doing it.” He’d answer, “Don’t let your hippopotamus mouth overload your hummingbird butt.” As soon as our daughter “got a little too big for her britches,” he told her so. The day our son took a step toward him, John stepped up as well, “You aren’t big enough to whoop your old man, and by the time you are, you won’t want to.”
When our kids were high-schoolers, we heard, “If I had a TV, a phone in my room, a car, my own laptop, your credit card, and if I didn’t have to work for any of them, I’d be mature.” John said, “If a bullfrog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his butt.”
One of the kids would leave the house in a huff, “Limp on down the shoulder on the rim.”
They’d disappear when they thought we wanted them around, “I think they went to the bathroom and the hogs ate ‘em.”
And when teachers called about homework not being turned in, “We buy you books, send you to school and all you do is chew the backs off. We don’t want anymore calls, understood?”
The kids have long since moved out and moved on. On their packing day, John shared the same wisdom his dad shared with him, “The door only swings one way.”
To John and EL’s credit, their legacy lives on. Our daughter lives in South Cackalacky (that’s South Carolina, Southern style). And I overheard our son telling a friend, “My dad said when I was big enough to whoop him, I wouldn’t want to. And he was right.”
Surely you have some sayins to share with us. Go ahead. I’m dying to read them.
WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Southern-style livin’ may not top the list for being politically correct, but let me tell you, I’m tickled pink with how our family turned out. Thanks to old-fashioned, ever-lovin’ common sense.