Beyond the Belly Button

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Well, it appears that the “pepek swiat” story touched quite a few hearts and minds. I have been inundated with emails full of other expressions passed down by grandmothers and grandfathers for generations. Some of these are on the same theme of how to describe self-absorbed arrogant people who think they are the “belly button of the world” and others are just life lessons.

Related to the “pepek” theme, if you’ve ever heard someone say, “Well doesn’t she just think she’s the cat’s ass,” or in Britain, “Now, don’t he just think he’s the dog’s bollocks,” you get the idea. I heard both of these from my French-English-Scottish-Irish grandparents and knew immediately what they meant. What I didn’t know was their origins.

Both the cat’s ass and the dog’s bollocks get cleaned frequently by their respective owners, thereby being body parts that require a lot of attention. So, someone who demands a lot of attention gets the appropriate label. Apparently the phrase “in the moonlight” is added at the end, perhaps to make the well-licked body part seem more ethereally beautiful.

Similarly, if you say someone thinks she “is the cat’s pajamas”, that is also about someone who thinks highly of herself. However, the reference seems to be about the “cool cat” jazz players of the 20’s and the flappers fashion craze of high style silk PJ’s. This one fits right in there with “the cat’s whiskers” and “the bee’s knees” for people who think they are pretty special.

Continuing on the cat’s theme, we have my Grandad’s favourite, “All cats are grey in the dark.” This one, although attributed to Benjamin Franklin’s advice for young men to date older, wiser women, apparently originated in France. There it appeared as “by night all cats are grey” in a line from Cervantes novel Don Quixote, indicating that, when the candles are out, the thin veneer of class and perceived quality disappear.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have “colder than a witch’s tit” – an expression used equally to describe both this winter’s Arctic Weather Bombs and someone who is emotionally cold and devoid of human warmth. In the same vein are phrases like “uglier than a dead monkey in the moonlight.” Now, while the moonlight may have made the cat’s ass more attractive, it definitely makes the dead monkey downright creepy. This is a phrase that could be used today to describe Harvey Weinstein’s root chakra.

And then there are expressions that will be needed to describe the speed of the spin coming from the Ontario PC Party to move away from news about the shocking loss of their leader, Patrick Brown. The former leader was abandoned by his Party faster than rats leave a sinking ship, with the further ignominy of having his name quickly removed from his office door. To add insult to injury there is a rumour that the “at” in Patrick was erased first, leaving “P- – rick Brown” on the door for a cruel photo op.

There is also the whirling dervish spin surrounding the PC’s new Interim Leader Vic Fedeli, who became unusually humble after the Party declared they wanted a real leadership race – one month before the Ontario Provincial Election. Really?! And then there is the spin wrapping around Lisa MacLeod, Dimitri Soudas, and Eric Lindros regarding who knew what when about the sexual assault allegations that tossed out Patrick Brown with the bathwater.

Not to mention the sexual assault allegations that just caused PC Party President Rick Dykstra to step down, or the recent computer hacking of the PCOP voter data base. What the Party does not need right now is for some loudmouthed big white male, alleged former drug dealer, addict enabler, and “sports fan” of the Lingerie Football League to run for the leadership of the Ontario Regressive Conservatives. That would be hard to spin as any kind of good news story.

The expressions that cover all of this came from one of my Dad’s old fishing buddies. How fast will the PCPO try to shut down these stories? “Faster than a whippoorwill’s butt with shutters,” or the even more colourful “faster than a goose shitting in the moonlight.” Now, I have no idea about the origin of these phrases, having seen neither a whippoorwill’s butt nor a goose defecating in the moonlight, but I just know it means something really fast and nasty is happening, and not even the moonlight can make it pretty to watch.

Whatever happens next, you know there will be an expression in someone’s family heritage that will cover the situation. After all, if we can’t trust politicians who speak with a forked tongue, at least we can trust Grandma and Grandpa to be as honest as the day is long.

After this crazy week, those long days of the Summer Solstice can’t come any time too soon!

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