“I’m going to cloud up and rain all over you.”

That was my mama’s go-to threat when I did something that really made her mad. Or at least something that wasn’t bad enough to require use of my middle name or an instantaneous, “Go cut me a switch.”

I never did really understand what such a maternal rainstorm might look like but was astute enough to know that I didn’t want to actually experience the phenomenon.

And not fully understanding did not preclude me from carrying the expression into adulthood and using it with my own children, either.

I did know that the threat was akin to, “I’m going to jerk a knot in your tail.” I’ve had many knots jerked in my tail, metaphorically speaking. Rarely, however, did I receive a “hit a miss,” if I may quote Samuel Clemens. That said, I am very thankful that my mama never followed through on her threat to “skin me alive.”

Folks don’t use such colorful language these days. Probably some law against it. We don’t want to upset the sensibilities of our children. Everyone is sensitive these days, don’t you know? If everything these current egg heads in academia say is true, it’s a wonder people my age are as stable as we are, intellectually and emotionally speaking.

Plus, we had to crawl under the school desk at 2 o’clock every day, for a long time, to practice up for when the Russians dropped an atomic bomb over the Yellow River.

But I kind of miss those old expressions. For instance, my mama used to ask my daddy, quite often, “What do you think about rats?” The stock reply was, “I’m rough on rats.” I engage my children in this little repartee to this very day and none of us have felt like, to my knowledge, that we were receiving subliminal messages that we might actually be rats.

Come to think of it, though, it’s a wonder I have any self-esteem left. When I was about to leave the house after dark, say to walk to a friend’s house or to the ball field, I might worry aloud that somebody might snatch me up. My mama’s stock reply was “just strike a match,” which meant, I finally gleaned, that by striking a match and allowing my captors to get a good look at me they would realize that I wasn’t much to look at and turn me loose.

Boo hoo. Poor, poor pitiful me.

My mama had other expressions that weren’t menacing or degrading, of course. For instance, whenever we went anywhere that she had ever spent any amount of time in her younger days we were returning to “her old stomping grounds.”

I never did understand what they used to stomp, but I have a few old stomping grounds of my own I would like to revisit.

When I didn’t get my way as a child, I was bad to pout. I still am, according to my lovely wife, Lisa. My mama took no pity on me and would tell me to “stick my lip out a little further so we can all ride to town.”

If I took my pouting to the level of actually crying about a perceived slight I was certain to hear, “You’d better ‘dry up’ right now or” — all together now — “I’ll give you something to cry about!” She would, too, but knowing so didn’t always prevent me from being upset enough to throw a “hissy fit”, which would sometimes evolve into a “conniption” if I was really upset about something.

Eventually, of course, when that happened, I’d have to go cut the aforementioned switch. Speaking of which, the finding your own switch part really created a dilemma for a child. Pick too sturdy a tool and the switching would hurt way too much. But pick one that wasn’t substantial enough, and your mama would be that much madder when you finally did find a suitable piece of shrubbery.

Again, I don’t know how any of us survived childhood.

But I do know this. If I could just hug my mama’s neck one more time, I’d be grinning like a mule eating briers. I do miss her so.

They tell me the first 20 years without your mama are the hardest. I hope they are right.

Support Local Journalism

Now, more than ever, the world needs trustworthy reporting—but good journalism isn’t free. Please support us by subscribing or making a contribution today.

Darrell Huckaby is an author in Rockdale County. Email him at dhuck008@gmail.com.

Recommended for you

Stay Informed

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please log in, or sign up for a new, free account to read or post comments.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.