A friend posted on Facebook that her cat, who had had surgery, was “drunk as old Cooter Brown.” Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this expression, but I suddenly wondered who Cooter Brown was and how he became the epitome of drunkenness.
Well, according to the Urban Dictionary, during the Civil War, Cooter Brown lived right on the line between North and South, so that he was vulnerable to be drafted by either army. He had friends and family on both sides of the argument and he surely did not want to fight. So he determined to get drunk and stay drunk for the duration of the war, thus being seen as unfit for military service. To honor and remember old Cooter’s efforts, his name became a metaphor (especially in the South) for being inebriated. He is further honored by having pubs and taverns named for him in New Orleans, San Antonio and Jacksonville, AL . . . I hear tell.
I have been thinking about old sayings lately because the palms of my hands (and sometimes the soles of my feet) itch. I Googled a question and there are almost as many urban legends as medical explanations. Legends first. Somewhere in my memory bank was the old saying that if the palm of your right hand itches, you will meet a stranger; if the left hand itches, you will come into some money. There are many opinions on the Internet, most dealing with money rather than strangers. Since both my hands itch, I figure a stranger is going to bring me some money. (Actually I’m thinking I have become allergic to the hand soap, bath soap, dish soap, or laundry soap I use. All name brands I been faithful to for the past ten years.)
Another old saying (that has nothing to do with anything I’ve written so far) is “too wet to plow.” When I Googled that phrase, all the references indicated the saying originated 40 or so years ago from a country/western song “I can’t dance and it’s too wet to plow.” The phrase means, “Might as well do (whatever) because there’s nothing else I can do right now.” This is explained (among other places) on the Texas A&M sponsored page “More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At.” Google it if you’re interested.
HOWEVER, I know for sure that phrase is way more than 40 years old. I have heard it all my life. My mother used it a lot, meaning something not so good. “Once that happens, it’s too wet to plow,” or “If you do that it’s going to be too wet to plow.” Meaning when a farmer has so much rain they can’t even plow (because they will get stuck), that’s not a good thing. Or it’s a good thing (rain) turned bad (mud).
For instance: He got drunk as old Cooter Brown and lost his lottery ticket. Even though his palms itched, it was too wet to plow.