Thursday, October 17, 2013

Clear As Mud

“It’s the best thing since sliced bread.” 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember when bread wasn’t sliced. It’s always been sliced. It’s part of the way it’s grown—sliced, on the vine and from the vine, and then tied up in a plastic bag marked Wonder.   So when my friend used this brand new expression on me, well, forgive me, but I thought she was kind of dumb.
That’s what happens when you move from the west to the south. You meet new people and learn foreign phrases. Like “toad strangler.”  I don’t touch toads. I don’t mind if other people strangle them since I’m not sure why they survived the Great Dinosaur Extinction unscathed. But, personally, I refuse to touch a toad.
So what is a toad strangler?
Is it against the law to choke toads? Was the Great Toad Strangler a distant cousin of the Boston Strangler? Are the authorities still looking for him?
Okay. It turns out in Florida, whenever there’s a torrential downpour, they call it “a toad strangler.” I think that’s weird. I’ve lived through a lot of serious rainstorms in the south and not once have I seen the roads littered the next morning with drowned toads. See, that’s how they survived the Great Dinosaur Extinction.
Enough frog talk. Amphibians are gross.  Back to the kitchen. Here’s another one. In the south, when a cook’s potluck casserole exceeds the recommended daily amount of sodium, someone might comment that she “stubbed her toe on the salt.”
Now let’s think about that.

Do you realize how small a piece of salt is? I know some women who are proud of their tiny feet—don’t get me started on that one—but do they seriously want me to believe that their Princess And The Pea Complex could actually trip them up on a grain of salt?  I saw one of those under the microscope when I was thirteen. I think someone could stub their toe on a microscope, but beyond that . . . And frankly, if someone has their feet anywhere near a casserole they bring to a church potluck, I’m not touching it, sister.  I don’t care how high the sodium content is.
I think the problem is people don’t say what they really mean. If it’s raining cats and dogs outside, then just say that. If there’s a new fangled invention that really flips your switch, that’s all you need to tell me. And if you think I’m a lousy chef whose salty casserole makes you want to drink like a fish, you should keep that opinion to yourself.
See, discretion is the better part of valor, which is a Yankee expression meaning “she has a nasty right hook.”And that little piece of info right there could save your life at a church potluck.
Which might very well make it the best thing since sliced bread.

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