"if it's good news, it must be someone else's"

Friday, May 7, 2010

ya learn somethin' every day!

i was carrying on yesterday real normal, eating slices of this new boar's head manchego cheese i just bought a half pound of, while cruising the three digit cable channels for a new, obscure fibomercial to write about in my other blog (yeah, shameless self-promotion).
anyway, our dog, a shameless eating machine, side saddled up next to me in hopes i might give her a little corner.
no way!
this was too good to share ... yet.
after a minute had passed, about thirty seconds longer than she could stand, she made her move towards a wayward slice that had found itself hanging precariously over the edge of the plate.
i grabbed the plate before the snap of her labrador jaws made contact, and barked, "keep your cotton pickin' claws off it!"
then she shot me a look like i'd just cussed or something, and sauntered out the room all weird and all.
i thought, geez what'd i say? i was gonna give her a piece eventually, as i always do.

and as she walked away, i smiled about the phrase, "cotton pickin' claws",  sometimes "cotton pickin' hands", and how easy it flowed off my tongue, after all, my mom used that expression almost as much as "if you know what's good for you".
ah yes.
the good old days.
just another great example of a time when more civil, simple tongues ruled.
when, as bill o'reilly would have us return to, traditional values laced the fabric of american culture.

"cotton pickin' hands"!
and i chuckled as i thought, what does it mean anyway?

it took about two seconds.
holy shit!
it can mean only one thing.
and if i need to spell it out, you really need to stop drinkin' the tea for a second.
an innocuous set of words used endlessly and thoughtlessly without an ounce of prejudice overtly intended, and yet there can be no doubt about its derivation and ugliness.

this, i had to ask keaton.

i don't think she was in the door more than a minute after another long, draining  day at her office, when i pounced, "hey! you know that expression, keep your cotton pickin' hands off it?
she mumbled from a pile of mail she was rifling through, barely paying any attention to me, "yeah? what about it?"
i asked, "well, have you ever wondered what it—"
before i could finish, she shot around and said, "oh shit!"
i said, "yeah, exactly! i need to talk to my mom."
keaton said, "me too!"

later that night, as i was lying in bed, the dog settled in and heaved one of those large sighs she always does before slipping into muscle twitching sleep.
it's one of those little things she does that drops my blood pressure a good 15%.
and i thought, it's funny. i'm never certain what it's gonna be, but i really do learn something every day, and this time from a dog no less. i need to pay closer attention.

1 comment:

Randy Johnson said...

Really good post Bob!

Please thank that smart dog of yours for me. I thought I’d removed all such phrases from my vocabulary, but I sure missed that one. Looking back on the 1960’s I’m amazed at some of the things we kids said without a second thought. The corner store even sold licorice candies shaped like babies with a name I would never utter today. Man, I hope the version of ”Eenie meenie minie moe …” we recited back then has gone extinct. Being part Italian and part Cherokee Indian I got to be on both the giving and receiving end of several slang terms I didn’t fully understand at the time. I even got called the ”n” word in grade school for awhile because I was the darkest kid in class, until Ron, the school’s first African-American student enrolled in sixth grade. I remember taking that kid home to my house the first day he showed up, and hanging out with him during the year. I hope it was for the right reasons.

Anyway, I will do my best to further improve my vocabulary. And I don’t mean to make it more “politically correct!” I hate that term, and consider myself to be very politically incorrect, politically impolite, and a bit of a rabble-rouser, but that’s a whole other conversation. I prefer the term “humanly correct.” ...And so I will try to walk (and talk) through life without offending my fellow human beings, except of course for Republican’s, because that’s a choice! No one is “born” a Republican for crying out loud. Oh, and when I drive through Idaho, I’ll probably still yell at the kids “Get yer potato digging fingers off my car!” ...but that’s just in Idaho.