Tag Archives: sayings

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.)