Old Folks Say It, So It Sounds Right


People often discount the art of language, the importance it has played in the lessons we've learned in and out of the classroom. Clichés have become a way of life, the same can be said for adages, various phrases, Bible scriptures and Jay-Z lyrics that have been inserted in our everyday lexicon. What sticks with us are the things that we've heard that we can apply to day-to-day living, what makes the most sense to us. We all know the "golden rule" and the proper response to "God is good!" and what to do when an M.C. says "The roof is on fire!"

However, there are a few things that you've heard over the years that have stuck with you, if not for their profundity, but for their perceived ridiculousness. These are the saying that your grandparents, aunts and uncles constantly said as you were coming up that seemingly didn't make any sense, but you couldn't tell them that, because they'd been hearing them for years and passed them directly to you. If you noticed, you've inserted these idioms into your usage too, not because you know the meanings, but because old folks said, so it must've been true. Outside of those outlandish stories of walking 35 miles to school barefoot, there were a few things that really stuck to the ribs.

There were things that my grandparents said to me that I immediately knew didn't make much sense because it was totally contrary to what I was learning in school, but I respected their words nonetheless, because I believed that with their age came wisdom and who was I to question their years of experience because of what I was taught from a book? One of my great-grandfather's favorite phrases was, "Let me learn ya", meaning that he wanted to teach me something. I'm not sure if my grandfather went to school past 4th or 5th grade and he didn't read very well, but I never corrected him, because that was the accepted phrase of his upbringing. There wasn't much my grandfather could've taught me academically, but life was his teacher and he spent nearly 30 years passing many of those lessons on to me.

My grandmother would always tell us not to watch TV in the dark, because it would strain our eyes and eventually make us blind. Yet, when we turned on the lights while watching, she would immediately complain that we were running up the light bill! She would explain to us that was talking out of both sides of your mouth, saying one thing, but immediately contradicting yourself in following statements. That explanation will allow me to come to understand politics, big business and the public personas of celebrities.

There's one that I never really understood, "I've gotta go see a man about a horse (or dog)", that one always was beyond my grasp. I found out later that it meant one of two things; 1. You had to go to the bathroom or 2. You just needed to step off and have some time to yourself. I guess being clever at times is much easier than saying I have to pee.

I was at the bar a few days back and the extremely old school playa next to me that was eager to impress me with his lasting prowess in the area of females wanted to introduce me to his "lady-friend" that he called a young lady. Keep in mind that dude was pushing 80, so the young woman he introduced me with was closing in on 65. That's neither here nor there; the term "lady-friend" was what stuck with me, because it's a term that I use to describe an indescribable situation with a woman. You know when you're uncertain what to say when you're introducing her to someone, you two are not quite a couple, but more than friends, so she's your "lady-friend".

But one thing's for sure, never buy your "lady-friend" shoes, because she would walk out of your life. I'm not sure what era that originated in, but it damn sure died around 1985, yet folks still toss it around like it's the golden rule. Fellas don't subscribe to that thought, don't buy your woman shoes and she'll leave you faster than the paternity results come in on Maury. I'm unsure how to keep a woman happy without buying her a couple pair of shoes every month or so.

There's one thing I'm sure you've heard, maybe even this week that you question its validity. However, you've heard it all of your life, so there must be trust to the statement. That is any variation of the idiom that claims that something "went down the wrong pipe". If you're anything like me, you've always wondered what pipe could folks possibly be talking about and just how something gets down that pipe. Well, the truth is at times liquid does manage to go down your trachea, which causes the coughing fits needed to clear your windpipe. There's a whole scientific explanation for it, but you have internet access, look it up for yourself.

By the way, can anyone tell me why folks put that one finger up when they tip out of church during service?

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