Alright, steady on you kids! Today's topic is 'songs my mother taught me' only they aren't songs and she didn't really teach me - she just said them all the time until I could whisper them under my breath as she said them in a cowardly act of semi-defiance. I won't give them to you in order - because there isn't any but just as they arise in my brain pan:
1.Who do you think you are? The Queen of Sheba? - this was used when any of us got 'too big for our britches' or 'cheeky'. I had no idea who the Queen of Sheba was but meant to look her up as an adult and 'give her a piece of my mind'. But I didn't because apparently she's been dead for centuries and centuries and is sick of little girls beseeching her ghost. I have looked her up in my Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, however : ahem....The Queen of Sheba is the queen who visited Solomon and apparently what has led to the saying above is that she came to Jerusalem with 'a very great train'. So there you have it - that one demystified. And yes, mom, and moms everywhere, I DO think I'm the Queen of Sheba!
2. Old as Methuselah- this had littler interest for me because anything 'old' was by its very nature not very compelling. The confusion on this one was that all my life I thought Methuselah was some old LADY in the bible but it was an old man - the oldest in the bible. He was 969 when he died. To my young mind there wasn't a great deal of difference between 969 and say...49. So. But this one leads to the next.
4. Little pitchers have big ears - this was completely mystifying but I knew that it meant I should listen closely as something wildly gossipy was about to be uttered. And so that is what my book tells me - little folk hear what is said when you little think it. The 'ear' of a pitcher is the handle made somewhat in the shape of a man's ear. OK - if you say so. I must say that I thought it was something to do with baseball as a child and wondered why folks that played that position would have bigger ears than say - the catcher.
5. If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all - no need to look this one up. I hated it then and I get uncomfortable when Buddhist texts talk about the importance of 'right speech' and that is because I like to fall by times into a wallow of gossipy bad talk. There. I admit it.
6. Mind your own beeswax - ok I will. I always liked this one even when it kept me from asking questions I was dying to ask - my mother's name was 'Bea' so there might have been some confusion there in the younger years. I won't even tell you how confusing it was to have my dad's name be Lloyd and here everyone say The Lloyd's Prayer. He ought in my living room I used to think...
7. You sound like an old fish-wife - I thought this a bit much when we lived my entire life in land-locked places. I thought it meant that fish wives were by the nature of their hard lives prone to hectoring but I find that the saying applies to those women with strident harsh voices because the wives of fisherman had to yell to sell their wares and were known for their charming (ha) flow of invective at the market place. OK - I'd like to sound like a fish-wife then.
8. And one of my favourites - rarely said by my mom and so treasured when she did let it escape her lips - And they were off - like the bride's brassiere!
Do you have any songs your mother taught you? Do share....