NaPoWriMo Day 18: A Snowball’s Chance


Hmmm. Today’s prompt invites us to go back in time and remember the sounds of home–particular sayings that we no longer hear, sounds that made up our home environment back in the day…Right off the top of my head I can remember a few expressions that strike me as pretty funny now.

Things my dad said: (notice lots of expressions involving Hell):
It’s hotter’n the hinges of hell in here. (Said if we let the wood stove burn too hot)
He took off like a bat outta hell. (Often used in reference to drivers on the road)
There’s about a snowball’s chance in hell that…(______ will happen)
Beats the hell outta me!  (
used in lieu of “I don’t know.”  )
Jesus William H. Christ!  S
aid when annoyed and frustrated and unpleasantly surprised.
You’re an accident looking for a place to happen.
(Said if we put our cup too close to the edge of the table)
Aw, horseshit (insert someone’s name here). 
Used to express incredulity.
I don’t give a rat’s ass about_________ (Talking about some situation that he didn’t think was important).

A funny thing Gram (Mom’s mom) said: If your father sees this, he’ll have a shit hemorrhage. (Talking about a mess my sisters and I made.)

As you can see, these expressions tend toward the vulgar side of the English language, which is really funny to me now, because both my dad and my grandmother were highly educated, articulate, intelligent people–so they had access to a much richer and more varied language than they ended up using in daily conversation. I wonder where my dad got all those expressions.  Not sure where the poem is in the expressions, but recalling them stirred up some feelings of tenderness toward my father. So maybe I’ll write about that.
Dear Dad,
You were always so gruff with your words.
Were you afraid of what you’d feel
if you didn’t use them to build a wall between us?
I know you cared about us,
so why would you say, “That’s nice,”
when we told you that we loved you?
Of course we were messy–
we were little kids.
Why would our messes upset you so?
Were you not allowed to be messy
when you were a little boy?
Did someone tell you
that you were an accident waiting to happen?
I wish I could get closer to you Dad
while you still walk this earth.
But the little girl in me
doesn’t know if she can bear your prickly words.
She isn’t sure that you give a rat’s ass about her feelings.
She thinks that there’s about a snowball’s chance in hell
of you understanding her.

4 responses »

    • Theresa, I actually thought of you as I wrote this. I thought of how you’ve described the relationship between you and your father, and how much kindness and tenderness you have experienced with him. I felt wistful…

      • Perhaps the intense sadness I’ve felt at losing my dad equals a lifetime of sadness arising from the tricky relationship you’ve had with yours… Sending you love. x

      • So insightful, Theresa! Although there are certainly moments of intense sadness when I think of my dad… Yesterday I put on Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #2 in C#minor–one of my dad’s favorite pieces that he played for me on a reel to reel tape player when I was a child–and while my kids were listening, I walked away and cried in the bathroom! Emotions are tricky in general. I didn’t want to have to explain why I was feeling so intensely sad, so I walked away and cried for a few seconds…then wiped my eyes and came back into the room.

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