Smith: ‘Kids say the darndest things’
Vail CO, Colorado
It’s easy to blame your adult shortcomings on your childhood. Easy, trendy and probably a bit of a cop out.
If your childhood happened to have taken place in Mississippi, well … it should be enough to just stop right there. But there’s more. Oh … there’s more.
When it came to disciplining the kids, my extended family used both the “carrot” and the “stick” methods. The carrot, of course, was deep-fried beyond recognition. Oddly enough, the stick was, too, because in Mississippi, everything gets deep-fried eventually. So, painful as the stick could be, it was also delicious, especially when served with hush puppies.
I mention childhood discipline because a bit of my past has been rattling around in my head lately. It’s an authentic, colorful, terrifying threat that I used to hear from time to time, one that far surpassed the standard full-name-usage, the slow-counting-to-three or the classic, “Do you want something to cry about” call to arms.
This was the WMD of threats.
It went like this:
“(If you don’t stop that) I’m going to rip your arm off and beat you over the head with it until your nose runs crap.”
(NOTE: They wouldn’t actually say “crap,” of course. They would be much more graphic, so as not to lessen the immediacy of the threat.)
Now, let’s settle in and deconstruct that bit of dark, dark Southern poetry.
“I’m going to rip your arm off …”
Not “I’m going to twist your arm” or “I’m going to tug uncomfortably on your arm” or even “I’m going to pinch your arm.” No. It shall be ripped off. No doubt, it will separate at the shoulder, and not cleanly. Nay, the ripping part implies there will be a grisly removal of the arm, with soggy bits hanging out on each end. And spurting.
You probably think that the forced, nonsurgical, sedative-free removal of a child’s arm would be enough to inspire said child to cease whatever it was he or she was doing wrong (sassing, back-talking, tattlin’, tunin’ up, etc.), right? I mean, point made, right?
I guess you’ll mind me from now on, right? Not quite yet …
” … and beat you over the head with it … “
Well, clearly a child needs to be beaten over the head with SOMETHING in order to learn a lesson. But what? I mean, where, right here in the middle of the grocery store produce aisle, will I ever find something suitable for beating my … oh! How about this freshly ripped-off arm? This might work. Here, let’s give it a try.
Yes! Based on just a few initial test beatings, I can see that this will be perfect.
And just how many beatings over the head with one’s own tiny, freshly ripped-off arm do you think it would take to get a child to mind you? Two? Three? Five, tops, right? Well, once again, you fail to understand the nature of Southern disciplinary action, because …
” … and beat you over the head with it until your nose runs crap.”
When I was a kid, I used to blow my nose really loud. My grandfather would always say, “If it wasn’t so much, I’d think it was your brains.” Funny.
The implication being that I had a very small brain. Smaller, in fact, than the tiny bit of mucus produced by my nose-blowing. Ha! This joke was also based on the premise that your brains don’t generally come out of your nose.
Everybody knows that only two things come out of your nose ” 1) boogers or snot and 2) blood, especially if you had the athletic prowess that I had as a child and could actually get a bloody nose from playing mini golf.
So, in order to get a THIRD thing to come out of a nose, something, in fact, that generally comes out of the entire other end of the body, well … there’s some beatin’ that’s gonna have to be done.
Luckily, you’ve come to the right place.
Next week we’ll examine ” in equally exhaustive detail ” yet another favorite Southern childhood threat:
“I’m gonna slap you nekkid and hide your clothes.”
Y’all come back now, ya hear?
Visit Barry Smith’s Web page at http://www.barrysmith.com.
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