My Words Are Older Than I Am

1 Apr

One time in high school, I was sitting in the hallway with a bunch of friends and someone was entertaining the group with some scandalous bit of gossip that was really important breaking news–I’m talking about High School Red Alert kind of stuff. When the storyteller got to the big climax, the real dirt, I exclaimed “Oh my stars and garters!”

Old woman or young girl? Oh my words! It's hard to tell!

Slowly, heads turned towards me. I think the storyteller still had her hands raised in an explanatory gesture, so she sat there frozen in a Vanna White pose (but sadly lacking Ms. White’s charm and sequins). It was as if I had ripped off my face, Scooby-Doo style, to reveal that I was not, in fact, a sixteen year old, but rather an elderly blue-haired woman with a fanny pack. I don’t even know where that expression came from. You all know, based on past posts, that I’m very close with my grandma. You might think that grandma’s everyday sayings would naturally rub off on me. That’s certainly true, but my dear grandma has never, ever said Oh my stars and garters! Frankly, she’s cooler than that.

It remains a mystery why those particular words burst from me at that particular point in time. Maybe I had heard or read them recently and my subconcious tucked them neatly away in a fold of my brain to be used for just the right occasion. (A bit like special underwear…) Perhaps in a past life, I frequently shouted oh my stars and garters as I fluttered my lace fan and sipped sun tea. That’s certainly plausible.

It happens a lot–I open my mouth, and decades-old words come flying out. Sometimes, like with the situation in high school, the conversation will come to a halt as my words float around and slowly collide with the other newer, cooler words. (Picture a sort of social-linguistic tetris game.) More often, though, the old-time expression is such a natural part of my vocabulary that the words mix and mingle without any awkwardness. Really, you have to own your old soul.

So what other sayings do I say? Here’s a sampling, plus some commentary (because why wouldn’t I explain these words with more words?):

Oh my word!
I know, I know–this isn’t much of a shocker. I just wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that in addition to being a clever title for an online collection of my thoughts, this is also something I say regularly.

If I had my druthers….
A combination of “would” and “rathers,” druthers also sounds like an uptight, rigidly formal butler with a heart of gold. Sure, he’ll sniff his nose at you when you speak to your dogs in cutesy talk or ask for a poptart, but underneath it all, he cares enough to conceal your secret identity. (Or, if you’re not a superhero, then he cares enough to save you from ironing.)

What’s that got to do with the price of peas?
I’ve heard other versions of this expression. (What’s that got to do with the price of tea in China? the price of eggs? the price of fish?)But bursting out with “the price of peas” is so alliteratively satsifying. 

Lord love a duck!
Once again, the alliteration here is oh-so-satisfying. This is also a wonderful subsitute for a more, let’s say, adult expression that you’d like to burst out with in times of crisis or frustration. But I have to wonder, is it the Lord loving a duck? The big G himself? Or is it an English aristocrat? In that case, I’d be worried about hunting seasons if I was the duck. (Hey Daffy–don’t trust declarations of love from men with hunting hounds and animals on their wall.)

Geeze Louise!
Who was Louise? Was someone once upset or astounded by her? Do women named Louise ever use this expression, or is that simply too weird? Was this saying only created because Louise rhymes with geeze? Because in that case, you could’ve said Geeze sneeze! or Geeze cottage cheese!  or Geeze Taiwanese! (Okay, I suppose that last one could be misinterpreted, but as long as you said it with respect and love, I don’t foresee any problems.)

16 Responses to “My Words Are Older Than I Am”

  1. How Did I Reach Sixty? April 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Great post! I’m used to getting strange looks when I come out with favourite sayings. Mainly because I’m a Scot living in England. Sometimes it’s like speaking a different language. (Maybe there’s an idea for a blog there!)

  2. pattyabr April 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    My mother said the expression “What does that have to do wtih the price of eggs in China” I say it too.

    • Oh My Words! April 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

      Do people understand you? No funny looks?
      Out of curiosity, I googled that saying. The all-knowing Wikipedia says that it (and all versions of it) was invented by economists. No one’s more shocked than me that economist talk has infiltrated my everyday language 😀

  3. WobblyWords April 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    I miss your words! In person that is 🙂 Do you say Jimeny Cricket? My mom does, I usually just curse or something less interesting and communicative. You have sooo many good phrases 🙂

    • Oh My Words! April 1, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

      Awwww! Well, I miss your wobbly words! haha
      I don’t say Jiminy Cricket, but I imagine it’s sort of fun to burst out with…

  4. adhocannie April 2, 2011 at 4:13 am #

    Aside from Oh my word, (not commonly used and old fashioned nowadays (like ourselves) ) – none of those phrases are in common usage in British English, although Lord love a duck sounds suspiciously like cockney slang (of which as a Scot I understand nothing at all.) I have never heard this expression in actual usage. Often you are unaware that you use expressions common to your point of origin – so, I would say, He has gone to his bed; whereas English friends point out they would just say, He has gone to bed.

  5. idiosyncraticeye April 2, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    Could totally relate to this post, I seem to have a wonderfully archaic vocabularly with a good few regional expressions thrown in for good measure from just about everywhere. Sometimes they’re just far more satisfying and expressive than anything cool or modern. Besides which there’s nothing quite like the expression on your neighbour’s face when you thank him for desisting with his noise at midnight and no later! 😉

    • Oh My Words! April 5, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

      haha–is that really your noise complaint? Love it!
      Yes, the reactions you get from under-used phrases really help make it worthwhile

  6. anjobanjo22 April 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Great Read! I was cracking up over here! My husband laughs at some of the weird things that come out of my mouth also. Can’t help it though right?

    Anyway, I wanted to stop by and say…

    Congratulations! I just awarded you with the Versatile Blogger Award (it’s a fun little award passed around within the blogging community). Here’s the shortlink:

    I look forward to the many great posts to come! 🙂

    • Oh My Words! April 5, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

      Oh my word! (See, told you I use it) Thanks very much! I quite like being labeled a versatile blogger. This is such a nice Tuesday treat! (I know you wrote a few days ago, but I’ve been behind. Still, Tuesdays really need treats.)
      Thanks for reading and thanks for picking me! 🙂

  7. lexy3587 April 4, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    Great post – very entertaining!
    My friend’s mom uses the phrase “Holy Hannah!”, and has the entire time I’ve known her. However, at some point in the past few years, she’s added to it – to make it more modern, perhaps. So now, she will exclaim, “Holy Hannah Montana!” instead.

    • Oh My Words! April 5, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

      Is Holy Hannah Montana an oxymoron? :-)That’s a cute exclamation for a mom–plus, a saying with alliteration AND rhyming must be super fun to burst out with…

  8. whatyouseeandnothingmore June 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    I say so many of these things and get such odd looks. Sometimes, I throw an ‘ergo’ or an ‘at said…’ in, just because I seem to have archaeic diarrhoea of the mouth (see there goes another one). I also have the habbit of calling people ‘duckie’. I have no idea where this comes from, as I dont think I have ever heard anyone outisde of the crazy crazy world of TV say this, other than you know in refrence to ducks.

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