A friend says to me “What’s the weather like outside?”
I grimace. “It’s hotter than a beanstalk.”
My friend blinks once. Twice. “Did you say beanstalk?”
I sigh. Another beanstalk noob, meaning I have to explain myself out loud and likely reveal a pattern of mental gnashing that could be used against me in a sanity hearing.
So. When the kids were very young and very impressionable and it was very hot or very cold outside I knew I had a very serious responsibility to shield their very pink little ears from the kind of very coarse gutter language that could turn them into very drug dealers.
Back in the B.C. era, (Before Children) I might go outside and experience stifling heat and exclaim “It is hotter than poop out here.” In the winter, with temperatures below freezing I altered the phrase slightly to say “It’s colder than poop out here.”
Note: poop is not the actual word I used, which is a lot like poop only shading more towards ca-ca or even doo-doo.
An aside. It really makes no metaphorical sense to compare heat or cold to bodily waste, although people always seem to know exactly what it is you’re saying.
I believe that in certain circumstances, such as when it is colder than frostbite on an Eskimo’s buns, or hotter than Buffalo wings in a sweat lodge, the speaker wants there to be no doubt about the seriousness of the message. This is no joke, the hot/cold one is saying, and pardon my French but it calls for some gosh-darn strong language.
But not too strong. Comparing coldness or hotness to poop has a certain naughty but forgivable je ne sais merde about it. On the other hand, to say baldly that it is copulating cold out, well people are likely to cringe and miss the serious weather message. Uninformed, such folk will too easily step outside and freeze/sweat their gazoodles off.
So, back to the beanstalk. In the A.D. era (After Delivery), I realized kids would pick up on any odd word they heard, especially if spoken loudly enough. Utterage of socially incorrect language at home is one thing.
But in the checkout line at the grocery, with youngsters in tow, it can be traumatizing to hear the cashier ask little Chauncey what he thinks of school and hear him use a word that rhymes with duck but neither looks nor quacks like a duck.
Therefore, because “Jack and the Beanstalk” was a story I often read to the kids, it seemed natural for me to eschew poop and instead borrow from that title to spontaneously describe giant shifts in the weather. It worked very well and none of the kids grew up to become drug dealers.
By the way, at the suggestion of Katherine, I made just one little tweak back then: “Wow, it’s colder than
Jack’s a beanstalk.”
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013, all rights reserved.