Column: Joe Morinville

Got an email from a Rotarian the other day saying the editor of this paper came to their meeting to get their opinion on some changes coming to the paper this August. Apparently he said something about how a lot of people don’t give a rat’s backside about something or other, except the editor didn’t say backside because the editor is a man of poor character and low breeding. Anyway, this Rotarian wanted to know what a rat’s backside was worth. Figured I’d answer that question here. A rat’s backside is worth ten times what a dozen editors is worth on their most productive day.

And that brings me to this week’s topic, which is expressions folks don’t use much any more or expressions that don’t mean what they used to.

1/ Apparently junk doesn’t mean what it used to. I have a lot of junk and it’s my junk. Like license plates from places I’ve visited, old hotrod and car magazines, and other car buff stuff. My wife is always trying to organize it and I don’t like that. So I said to my grandson, “I wish your grandmother would leave my junk alone. She’s always grabbing my junk.” The grandson started laughing like I was the funniest comedian in the world. “Too Much Information, grandad,” he says. I’ll confess to being a little red in the face when he explained it to me.

2/ Travelling down a similar road is the saying “It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.” Doesn’t mean what folks might think. Back in the navy days, cannon balls were stacked up on a brass rack they called a brass monkey. Brass contracts faster than iron when it’s cold, and if it got too cold too quick, the balls would fall of the brass rack. And you people thought this article wasn’t going to be educational.

3/ Blue moon is something we used to see on a Saturday night sticking out of the passenger side of a ’63 Chevrolet Impala, but it really is when there are two full moons in the same month. If you drove up Main Street Morinville on a Saturday night in the ’60s you’d see more than a couple full moons, blue and otherwise.

4/ Madder than a wet hen is something my mother always said, usually about her sister. I never knew what it meant then and I don’t know what it means now. I suppose the hens got wet and mad the last time it rained cats and dogs, which is another stupid expression, if you ask me.

5/ Another stupid expression you don’t hear is “It’s cheap at half the price.” It’s supposed to mean the price I’m giving you is a great deal. So if I’m selling you some of my junk – like my hot rod magazines – and I say I want $20 for the pile of them. Why would I say it’s cheap at half the price? You’d just tell me to give them to you for $10, which is half the price. That’s because you are cheap and want them cheap and I just told you half price is a cheap price. I looked this one up on The Google and apparently it has something to do with rich people borrowing money and paying too much interest. Figured that couldn’t be the real answer because rich folks don’t get rich by paying too much interest. Poor folks get poorer by paying too much interest.

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  1. Joe, I still hear the cheap at half the price one all the time at work. Doesn’t make much sense but people like it.

  2. Victorian England had streets full of horse manure and dead animals etc. When had a heavy rain this would all wash down the streets to the Thames. This included dead canines and felines hence it looked like it was raining cats and dogs.

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