Watching a re-run of the TV series The Golden Girls, one of the gals questioned the truth of what was said by a visitor to the girls’ home, and commented: “Get outta here.”

The visitor took her words literally, and started to go out the door. I laughed, then realized that if I really thought about, I could understand his confusion. I say a bunch of things that, while I know what the words imply, I have no clue how they came to mean what they do.


I tell someone to like it or lump it. How do you lump something?

Every dog has his day. I know it means everyone gets what he wants, or maybe what’s coming to him, at least once in a lifetime. But how did the dog get into it? Is it because once in a while each of us is crooked as a dog’s hind leg? And if we let our property run down, it’s gone to the dogs. No dog ever let his doghouse go to other dogs.

But dogs are not as confusing as cats. We let the cat out of the bag. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Our cats have long tails. Out of the bag means something is no loner a secret, long-tailed cats are connected to skeletons in closets, but again ... How did the cats get involved? As for multiple ways to skin a cat, who on earth wants to skin one?

When did it every actually rain cats and dogs?

If something fails, like a movie, we say it laid an egg. I really don’t get that one. to me, laying a egg is a good thing, and judging from the way they cackle about it. I’m convinced the hens agree with me.

Why do we wish on meteors that hit earth’s atmosphere (falling stars) or white horses, or coins thrown into a fountain?

Paratroopers yell Geronimo when they jump from a plane. Who decided it was a good idea to call on an Apache chief when leaping into space? I’m pretty sure Geronimo — and most other Apaches — had better sense than to jump off a mountain, or even out of a tall cactus. And I don’t believe there’s any way Geronimo’s ghost would show up with a spare one if your ‘chute fails to open.

I often say that I’ve done something until who wouldn’t have it, or until who laid a chunk. Don’t ask what the heck I mean by either one. I heard my elders say it.

What am I trying to convey when I say, “my stars and garters,” or “Katie bar the door,” or “my sainted aunt?” I had an Aunt Katie, and she may have been sainted and possibly wore garters. but I doubt it. I’ve no clue what I mean when I say those things. Or where or why they originated.

Heavens to Betsy. Who’s she and why would I send her heavens? And why is something honest to Pete? Why do I say that, for Pete’s sake? Pete’s even busier than the cat or Katie. I don’t understand why we pick on Kate or Pete, so help me Hannah. I haven’t even mentioned Jumpin’ Jehosophat or Great Godfrey. Or Geate Caesar’s ghost. But that’s all right; everything’s Jake, and I just let George do it.

Why do people take a powder or light a shuck? Why don’t they just leave?

If you interfere in my business, I might tell you to tend to your knittn’, but I don’t know why. Gripe about something, you should tell it to the Marines. I tell you to tend to your knittin’ because minding my busines for me ... well, ‘taint fittin’. But I’ve never seen a Marine get in the middle of a one-person complaint, I don’t believe Marines have the time or the inclination to settle small squabbles. But they do a heck of job settling fights between countries.

I have hissy fits, or fits and starts and I get fit to be tied. What does all that mean? Don’t ask me. Don’t even know if to say those things is fittin’.

And I know what faith is, but I’m stumped about bejabbers. But I’ve taught my great grandson to follow my lead in saying faith and bejabber. Or begorrah. I heard my Irish Aunt Katie say it. I overhead her ‘cause she didn’t bar her door.

I haven’t a notion who first told us that an unruly boy might be a son of a gun. All I know is, I’ve been hearing that, and those other hazy sayings, since Methuselah wore Pampers, and I was knee-high to a mule. And according to my Irish elders, it was a bow-legged mule.

I’ll keep talking turkey even if (to quote my mother) “that woman does come.” We came to learn that Mom was referring to Helen Highwater.

And sometimes I think old Helen is here ...

Patty Moore is a veteran semi-retired journalist who lives in Everest. She can reached via

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