I have generally attributed my obsession with language to my mother. Actually I should say my obsession with the English language, since I don’t know or really give a hoot about any of the others, except Latin maybe and it doesn’t count. She was the one who consistently harassed my ass to make sure I spoke grammatically not out of any respect for the language but to insure I did not sound like a hick or pick up too thick a southern accent.
But I must say also that the old man exhibited some degree of linguistic liveliness one might say. He told off-color jokes that we were not allowed to hear but which usually hinged on some ridiculous pun. I know he liked, “Woman who fly upside down have big crack up.” And while farting is sort of a universal language and not essentially English, his prowess in that area certainly contributed to my particularly low sense of humor.
More importantly though he used expressions such as “son of a gun.” This was used to express surprise and even consternation. He also said things like, “I did not cotton to it.” He once said, “I haven’t seen you since you since Hector was a pup.” Here we can perhaps see a classical reference in the mention of Hector. Or: “Mad as a wet hen.” These were mostly all southern ruralisms passed down no doubt from generation to generation. Though one of his favorites—It’s as cold as a witch’s tit in a brass brassiere—had to be of more recent origins since the brassiere only appeared in the early 20th century.
I have already mentioned, “Kiss my rusty red bunny” and “bleed my whistle.” These euphemisms were designed I do believe to be if anything more repellant that the actual “low” expressions, those being “Kiss my ass” and “take a piss.”
I have also mentioned swearing at which he was prodigious, the most classic being “goddamnmotherfuckingsonofabitch,” said as one word. Also he would say in moments of frustration, “If I had a shot gun I would blow my fucking head off.” At which I generally had to stifle my urge to say, “And boy do I wish the fuck you had one!”
Perhaps most irritating was his tendency to turn the language into a code. For example, one would be sitting at the dinner table and he would say, “PPMB.” This was confusing until somebody muttered, “Pass him the butter,” since PPMB stood for Please, pass me the butter, one of the rules of his code being to leave out the articles, “a”,”an,” and “the.”
Mostly, I found this practice so ridiculous I could not be bothered to figure them out except for WFDS which through dint of sheer repetition I came to understand as What’s For Desert Squirt. Sometimes he would come out with a whopper such as, “FDCQRTS,” which nobody could figure out, and since he would never explain them, as far as I know some of his deepest thoughts were never understood.