Bromides, Postulates, And Other Assorted Axioms From The Patriarchs


One of the more funnier lines in my own TV watching background was from an episode of McCloud, first aired 12/22/73.  The following is taken from the website, TV.com…

“…when Chief Clifford tells McCloud to stop using barnyard bromides. A bromide is a figure of speech, referring to a phrase, (or person who uses such phrases), which have been used and repeated so many times as to become either insincere in their meaning, or seem like an attempt at trying to explain the obvious. It can also mean the unnecessary insertion of an (often irrelevant) cliché into a conversation, in an attempt to make the speaker sound more authoritative.”

The authority figures of my life certainly had their share of bromides and good ol’ country sayings and barnyard phrases.  My dad and my grandfather were big on those.  As we’d be heading out the door in some degree of speed my dad might exclaim, “We’re off, like a dirty shirt!”  That one actually went over my head for quite a while even with his explaination (“Ohh.. you mean when a shirt is dirty you might take it off… hence we are leaving as quick as you can take off a dirty shirt!” and by that time we’d be at our destination).

Good old dad even had a nickname for me.. which I grew to acknowledge and accept as his display of fatherly affection.  He’d refer to me as “Captain“.  To this day I am unsure why he ever selected that moniker for me.  I’m sure I asked him more than once when I was little and I think he said it was because I enjoyed wearing sailing caps.  You know, those plastic brimmed hats with the little maritime anchor badge that make you look like a ship’s captain (later in life I sometimes wondered if he was getting back at some authority figure he encountered way back in the military).  I was his “captain” whether he was angry or happy… and especially when he was showing me “an old Chinese trick”.

Like most kids I would watch my dad do things and try to learn from them.. and of course I preferred doing them my own way until things went so far out of control that dad would say, “Look, let me show you an old Chinese trick.”, then he would end up making the job look easy.  “Did the Chinese really figure out how to do it this way, dad?”  I was always amazed at how smart those Chinese people were… and how well-advised dad was in knowing all their tricks.

My grandfather (on mom’s side) was really cool.  He and grandma worshipped me pretty much… likely cause I was adopted and a cute kid.  Whenever we’d leave their home after a visit grandpa would wish me off by telling me not to take any wooden nickels.  At first I kinda accepted that at face value as his funny way of saying goodby.  As I got a little older I recall asking him what that meant and he just replied, “Well, can you spend a wooden nickel?”  I replied, “No.”, to which he would respond, “So why would you take one then?”  Um.. I guess that made sense (it was later in life that I learned that one of the possible origins of that phrase had to do with the “minting” of wooden commemorative nickels for the country’s centennial celebrations that could be used for legal tender during the celebration but were worthless later.  Being warned not to take any meant don’t get stung taking them to use later… hence a metaphorical warning about watching out for getting taken in life).

Of course, with both dad and gramps there were the old favorites… works like a horse… stubborn as a mule… strong as an ox… quiet as a (church) mouse… and grandpa and grandma would be over for Thanksgiving dinner “God willin’ and the crick don’t rise.” (another variation, “as long as the good Lord‘s willin’ and the rooster don’t break bread with the jackass.”  “Can I say ‘jackass’, dad?”).

One day dad came up with a good one that he used until the day he died.  Oddly, I had a role in it… and to this day I tell this original story with pride in the knowledge that someone in my family thought it up… and no one outside my family (not even my own kids) will ever use it again.  As I was growing up in the 50’s my mother would typically take me to the family GP doctor for my shots and checkups in the course of a year.  In those days we had routine skin tests for TB and polio and typically some slight puncture of the skin was required, and a return trip to the doc a few days later to see if anything had turned red (a bad thing).

Well, for adults this was generally done on the arm.. but for kids, because of the active lifestyles maybe contaminating the test results, the test was done on the back, with a band-aid applied for general protection.  When it came time for mom or the doc to remove the band-aid.. well… we aren’t talking easy-remove band-aids here.  It hurt like hell and it didn’t matter if it was pulled off quick or slow.  It was the intense anticipation followed by OUCH!

So dad decided that anytime us kids received something we loved to eat (ice cream, candy, etc.) he would always retort, “I’ll bet that will make your bandage stick!”   For a while there my sis and I believed it.

The other day as I was passing my girlfriend in our narrow hallway I managed to quip… “One side or a leg off!”  I hadn’t thought of that saying in like decades (likely a Chicago saying, move it or loose it, reference).  Dad taught me well.

I suppose I best get to something constructive here and make hay while the sun shines or when my girlfriend gets home from work she will be madder than a wet hen because pretty is as pretty does, and you can take that straight to the bank!  Pizza for dinner tonight.  I’ll bet that will make my bandage stick!  Bye for now and don’t take any wooden nickels.

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One thought on “Bromides, Postulates, And Other Assorted Axioms From The Patriarchs

  1. Pingback: Reflecting Back On Some Notable Past Posts… | Doug's BoomerRants

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