Tit in a Wringer and Other Stories

wringer“Don’t get your tit caught in a wringer.” My grandfather used to say that and he wasn’t talking about washing clothes. I cringed the first time I heard it, not from embarrassment or political correctness, but from empathy. I knew what a wringer washing machine was and I could imagine how much getting your tit caught in a wringer would hurt.
Now, I doubt that Grandpa knew someone whose tit indeed had been caught in a wringer. More likely he was speaking metaphorically, though memory is fuzzy. He may have been telling me not to get upset about something, but he may have been telling me to stay out of trouble. According to Urban Dictionary, both are accurate meanings of the old saying.
An old-school newspaperman I worked with in the ’80s had an expression he’d use when a story fit exactly into the allotted space around the ads on a news page. The fit was “slicker than snot on a sleeve,” he’d say. Initially I was grossed out, but the layout of his news pages always looked pretty good. The more I thought about it, the more I liked his slimy turn of phrase.
“When do we send out the Saint Bernard?” was my mother’s way of asking when I planned to come home after an evening out. We didn’t have a Saint Bernard, only a series of farm dogs, none of which would have been very adept at finding and bringing home anyone after a night of revelry. The question was just her way of letting me know she cared.
When my father was describing any type of heavy object on our farm that had to be moved from one spot to another, he’d say it would take “three men and a fat boy” to lift it. The expression made his point, and the necessary strength in an equivalent man, boy, woman, and/or girl combination would be enlisted for the task.
Another favorite expression of Dad’s was “between you, me, and the fence post.” He’d invoke this disclaimer when he didn’t want me to blab whatever he was telling me.
These phrases are among the quotes, sayings, and odd expressions that comprise another of my collections. I like them because they tell stories that add color to my world and animate my thinking. Best of all, I don’t have to dust items on my mental shelf.
Laura Sternweis
P.S. Here’s one of my own additions to my collection: Better to be a smart-ass than a dumb-ass. But that’s another story.
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