I’m fixin’ to be gone.
I grew up in Bastrop, in Morehouse Parish, with its northern boundary butting up against the Louisiana-Arkansas line.
People in Bastrop speak with a distinct Southern drawl. Besides the slow pace of speaking, it was common to hear certain expressions that I don’t think you’d hear outside of the South.
“Fixin’ to be gone” was an expression I heard often, meaning “I’m about to leave.”
I’m thinking about Southern expressions after seeing an item from Business Insider about “13 Southern Sayings That The Rest of America Won’t Understand,” at businessinsider.com.
This list didn’t include “fixin’ to be gone,” a significant omission.
It did include “We’re living in high cotton,” which I heard plenty, though not much in recent years as cotton is no longer the big crop in Louisiana it once was. Tall cotton or high cotton meant healthy plants and the prospects of a good harvest, so being in high cotton was a good thing.
“She was madder than a wet hen” was one on the Business Insider list. The article said hens sometimes had a “broodiness” where they’d stop at nothing to incubate their eggs and would get agitated if farmers tried to collect them, causing farmers to sometimes dunk the hens in water to “break” their broodiness.
“He’s as drunk as Cooter Brown,” was another from the list. I’ve heard it but it’s not an expression I’ve heard very often.
The article said Cooter Brown was a legendary character that reportedly lived on the Mason-Dixon line. During the Civil War, to avoid being drafted by either side, Cooter decided to stay drunk throughout the war, making himself ineligible for battle.
“He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow,” was another from the list. I’ve heard it a few times, but it’s not common. Of course we all know how the rooster crows at sunrise so clearly a cocky rooster might think that when he crows, it’s special and the reason for the sun to rise.
I don’t think I ever heard anyone say, “He’s got enough money to burn a wet mule,” but that was on the list, originating with Louisiana Gov. Huey Long, who was trying to pass a tax on oil and got the oil companies riled up. Long reportedly said Standard Oil was offering legislators as much as $25,000 to vote to kick him out of office, describing that as “enough money to burn a wet mule.”
I didn’t think most of the 13 expressions listed were particularly common, and tried to think of others, more common Southern expressions.
Certainly most Southerners would holler (but more likely be said to “hol-lar”) for a stray dog to “git” not get out of their yard.
And if we were trying to get that dog to come to us, we’d not likely say “come on” but would say something that sounded like “com-moan.”
If we can’t do something, we might say “we cain’t.”
Southerners might commonly describe someone upset and making a scene as “carrying on.”
And then someone with no clothing might be described as “naked as a jay bird,” but if he was nude and up to something, we’d likely say he was “nekkid.”
WILL CHAPMAN is publisher of The Daily Iberian.