L.F. Young

© 1998

I live in Albert County, a mostly rural part of New Brunswick. For years this part of the world has had a reputation for its country charm and colorful inhabitants. The people of Albert County are some of the nicest folks you’ll ever run across, although some are still quite set in their ways. Change sometimes comes hardest to those who are used to the way it has always been. There are prejudices and cruelties here, but then, these sentiments abound throughout this vast planet of ours, so we aren’t that different from most.
I met a man who I think could be the poster boy for Albert County. His name is Ken, and he’s well known in these parts. Ken is a kind soul who doesn’t blink to help out a neighbor or friend when they are in need. A little rough around the edges, he is definitely set in his ways and in his thinking. Ken will always be best remembered by me as the man with a thousand sayings. Once, while I was going through a particularly gruesome week at work, I asked Ken if he’d been busy.
“Busy? I’m busier than a dog in a field full of stumps!” was his reply to me. With that he flew off to another job, and I ticked off another Kenny-ism I had never heard before.
Now I’m not saying that all of his great pearls of wisdom are actually his own creation. I’m sure, like most people, Ken heard a lot of them over the years and adopted some as his favourite, much like the rest of us do. I dare say that you may even adopt these same sayings as your own creation, if they indeed spark your interest.
So, what exactly is a saying anyway? My interpretation is that it’s simply a short statement, often made in a derogatory way, to express a particular ideal or realism of the speaker. For example, “He was tighter than the bark on a tree!” Another Kenny-ism meaning that the person in question was very frugal with his money, to the extreme.

We’ve probably all heard some of these at one time or another: Happy as a clam; clean as a whistle; sharp as a tack; meaner then a junk yard dog!
For the most part, the saying in question is usually a play of words. Sharp as a tack, for instance, doesn’t mean sharp at all, but rather very smart or intelligent. And the word smart, used in a certain
way, could mean something entirely different, as in, “Well you look very sharp in that new suit.”
I’m not sure where all these pearls come from. Who was the first person, or group to say “Wow! That is so cool!” Cool, this one word has stood the test of time for decades and was most likely started in the days of flower power and the hippie generation of the 60’s and 70’s. It evolved from one generation to another with the addition of other expressions tacked on to the end, like dude or man, but this one word has also changed in spelling and meaning. At some point someone decided to add their distinctive mark to this expression and spelled it “Kewl”. Its meaning is the same, and is used in the same context, but with a difference in spelling and sometimes pronunciation. Variations on this word might also be chill, cold, ice, etc. All are individual, and yet all can mean something different.

If someone is getting hot around the collar you might say something like “Chill, dude!” Hot can also mean cool as in “she’s the hottest dancer here.” Confused? Well you should be. From the most eastern point of land in North America to the most western point, different people have individual terms and sayings for nearly every situation including;
Appetite: I don’t know who was more stuffed, me, or the bird.
Baking: Too many cooks spoil the broth.
Cash flow: I haven’t got a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of.
Death: Yep! He bought the farm.
Energy: His get up and go…got up and went.
Financing: If you look after the pennies then the dollars will look after themselves.
Guilt: I feel lower than a snake’s belly in a wheel rut.
Honesty: His word is his seal.
Insanity: He’s crazier than a bed bug. (I’m still not sure what this means)
Jubilation: I was tickled pink!
Laughter: I laughed so hard, I nearly split a gut.
Money: If you have a lot, you spend a lot. If you have a little, you spend it all!
Nature: What follows two straight days of rain? Monday!
Pregnancy: I think she has a bun in the oven.
Thirsty: I was dryer than a popcorn burp in a dust storm. (The word burp is sometimes substituted for another form of gaseous emission)
Weather: Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors delight.
Now these are but a few and nearly all have variations to the same theme. I suppose its human nature to embellish the truth so as to enhance the tale telling. Is someone actually as strong as an ox, or hungry enough to eat a horse? I’m sure nobody is actually as dumb as a post, but then, why is a post dumb? Does it mean that the person in question can’t speak, as in deaf and dumb or, has the meaning, like so many sayings passed on for generations, somehow changed over the passage of time to mean something different?
Regardless of origin all sayings have one thing in common. If they’re catchy enough to get the attention of the listener, then they are probably destined to become popular and used. Through time the theme may change, the context and even the spelling and construction of the phrase may be altered, but the general idea will still be there for someone else to discover, use and improve upon.
So in conclusion, if you’re dressed to the nines and figure you’ll kill some time at the local Slurp and Burp try not to get between a rock and a hard place with that cute bartender. Time heals all wounds and at the end of the day, there’s no place like home.