Tom Dunlap (Redding)

Satire by columnist pokes fun at spankings, old time phrases, colorful expressions, over-used cliches.

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Old-Time Phrases Worn Thread-bare

Encouragement and Uplift


Lady Lynn

Tom Dunlap column
Wear out old-time phrases until they are threadbare

column by Tom Dunlap
October 23, 2009

With the current economic times near the bottom of the barrel, we often hear references to folks being either dirt poor or filthy rich.

These are terms we inherit, grow up with and pass along to our spawn. On a slow night in the think tank, I started recalling many of these old words and phrases, reminiscing about how they have stuck with us through the years like gum on a shoe.

As a youngster in the 1940s and '50s, I recall random examples now and then, finding them humorous, if not outdated or forgotten. This seems like a good time to mull them over for old times' sake. As one of my grammar school teachers often said, it's better than being lackadaisical.

One day an ornery kid at school told me that a certain teacher had bats in her belfry, but I never got to see them.

Holy cow, kids took a lot of heat in those days. People said we were wet behind the ears, and if we fidgeted excessively they criticized us for having ants in our pants. For crying out loud, just because we were being too rambunctious and maybe a little cantankerous, that was no reason for them to get hot under the collar. But, you know, parents can be persnickety.

Being young back then often seemed like a tough row to hoe. We had to hop to it at the snap of a finger or run the risk of getting a lickin' for dilly-dallying. That always seemed pretty willy-nilly, to me, especially if we weren't lollygagging. Jeepers creepers, kids will be kids, ya know.

And another thing, we had to take a bath every night. Crime-en-etly, I can recall Mom saying there was enough dirt in my ears to grow potatoes and all I'd done was ride the range down along Jenny Creek in search of owl hoots and desperados. I'll bet Roy Rogers or the Lone Ranger never had the cinch tightened on them for having a little dirt in their ears.

Being an only child, I was blessed as well as blasted, suffering the punishment and reaping the glory. Dad worked long hours at the family business leaving Mom in charge of the household.

She was a great mother. "Spare the rod and spoil the child" was not a common adage at our house. Spanking was an option when I strayed from the norm, but that was rare as hen's teeth.

Coming home with a bad report card was not a good thing. Behaving at school and doing my homework were rules of the road. Flash cards hammered the multiplication tables into my head and to this day, I am grateful.

Mom didn't rule by impulse, believing reasoning was the way to bettering behavior. But there was that one day when I played Army with my Dinky toys in her cherished rhubarb garden. Rhubarb in Redding is difficult to grow and, after a couple years trying, her four plants were near fruition. On the brink of success, the damage was more than her patience could bear. The sound of pinewood pulsated from my posterior. The rhubarb was a total loss, but I still have my Dinky toys and the lesson that went with them.

I recall one old feller folks dubbed as filthy rich. They said he was tighter than a hub cap. He's gone now, and so are hub caps. When I couldn't recall the old geezer's name, a younger friend claimed my clutch was slipping. "What's a clutch?" his daughter asked, no flibbertigibbet she.

Tom Dunlap grew up in Shasta County, attending Redding schools and Chico State University. A former R-S photographer, he lives in Redding with his wife, Fran, and two pesky cats. You can reach him at 245-9055 or

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Redding began as 'Poverty Flats'


A little boy wasn't getting good marks in school. One day he tapped his teacher on the shoulder and said, "I don't want to scare you, but my Daddy says if I don't get better grades, somebody is going to get a spanking."

My most memorable one was, after being lightly smacked on the butt and asking, "What was that for?" "Nothing. DO something and see what you get."

I once got smacked and when I asked, "What was that for?" my mom replied, That's for all the things I never found out about."

If you fall out of that tree and break your leg, don't come running to me! Variation: Cut your legs off in that lawnmower, don't you come running to me! If you poke your eye out with that thing, don't come looking for me! You always find things in the last place you look. Keep doing that with your face and it'll stay that way. This hurts me more than it hurts you. Variation: (speaking in time with the spanking) This(spank) hurts(spank) me(spank) more(spank).....

I want you to go find something for me to spank you with.

Mother to my Father: "He's got my looks and your brains!"

"He's your son!"

"I've told you a million times, don't exaggerate. What were you thinking of?"

"Well, I..." DON'T INTERRUPT ME WHEN I'M TALKING. Mom, can I... [Interrupting] If you have to ask the answer is no. Variation: Mom... [Interrupting] NO! Don't look at me, we had a funny looking milkman! Go ask your father, you're his fault. Variation: Did you hear what YOUR son did? Wait till you grow up and have kids of your own!

You're in big trouble when your Father comes home!

Your father spanks you because he loves you!

If your not home by 6: 00, your grounded!

Flush the toilet and wash your hands!

Because I SAID so! Just because, that's why.

You're grounded.

Just do it, or else.

Eat it, or you can leave the table. (OK! I'm outta here!!!!!) Variation: "Eat it, or you'll go without" (Sounds good to me!) If you lose that, I'm taking it away from you! (at dinner): "How do you know you don't like it if you haven't tried it?" Variation: You don't have to like it. .. you have to eat it!

Look, your father and I are eating it... This after having many times said, "If you friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?"

Where were you, you were supposed to be home hours ago??? - I da know........ Well you must know. What were you doing??? - Nothing......

You'll spoil your dinner eating that candy - better than spoiling the candy by eating dinner.

ONE.. TWO.... THREE...... FOUR........... - oh oh, now she means business!!!

Because I said so, that's why. When you get married and have kids you'll understand.

Never mind me, I'll just stay at home in the dark and listen to the radio. Have a good time. (guilt trip for teenager)

No, you can't go barefoot until it gets warmer.

"Hey" is for horses.

If you write the thank you note now, you'll get it over with.

Just hold your nose and you can't taste the cough syrup at all.

Let me kiss it and make it better.

[your first name] [your middle name] [your last name]

[many! !!! Carrots are good for your eyes.

But Popeye eats all his spinach!

Here comes the airplane/train (actually, a spoon with a fetid object upon it)!

Eat all your dinner or no dessert.

You COME when I call YOU, you HEAR???!!!

Go to your room and don't come out until I say so.

Do I need to tell your father?

I'm very disappointed in you.

I can't believe you lost it.

You'd lose your head if it wasn't screwed on tight.

No, because if we get a puppy then I'LL end up walking and bathing and feeding it.

Kootchie coo!

Mind the babysitter. We'll be back soon! Love you! Be good!

Electrical sockets are not for baby.

That's just for looks.

Don't put that UGH!!!! in your MOUTH!

Who squirted toothpaste all over the rug?

I'm going to count to three...

Cut it out!

I swear you kids are going to drive me crazy one day. That's what you're doing, isn't it? Trying to drive me crazy!

It's bea--YOO-tiful! Show Daddy! (a crayon artwork masterpiece was displayed proudly)

No, you did not wash your hands. Never mind how I know. Now, go wash your hands. USE SOAP!


If all your friends jumped off the Eiffel Tower, would you jump too?

God made you WITHOUT holes in your ears/ a picture of Ozzy Osbourne on your arm and until you are 18, you will not have holes in your ears / a man spitting a bat's head out of his mouth on your arm.

What is that awful racket!? (Metallica being played.)So, is this your hero or something? (Pointing to picture of Duran Duran with friends present)

(The wash-your-face-with-spit routine. Oh, MAAAA!)

Sit up straight.

I don't care what the other kids are wearing. No child of mine is going to wear his pants backwards/ a hat inside a house/ a nose ring/ a rattail/ an X shirt/ his shoelaces untied/ underwear on the outside of her clothing/ a mini skirt..

What is it, Halloween?

Eat your beets.

Of course you're going to church.

Are you ogling? What have I told you about copping ogles. I dress like this to honor God. (especially boys)

Stop your mesmerizing (or staring at women) and quit being so rude.

I have eyes in the back of my head, that's how.

You can do much better than "C"'s, God gave you a good brain. Use it.

Stop slouching.

If you read in the dark, you'll hurt your eyes. (Untrue, but if you read a lot, you will probably be myopic! Illiterates rarely have myopia.)

Don't slam the door. Come back here and close it nicely.

Do you know what happened to all the cookies?

Don't sit so close to the TV, you'll ruin your eyes! I don't know how you can read/ watch that trash.

In my day, we walked uphill ten miles to school in the snow, BOTH WAYS!

A little hard work never killed anybody.

Rise and shine! The early bird catches the worm!

The other children aren't laughing AT you, they are laughing WITH you!

You tell that bully to leave you alone or you'll tell the teacher on him!

If the teacher ever calls home again, I'll kill ya!

Go to your thinking spot and think about what you did for ten minutes. (Sometimes following a whipping.)

(Uses embarrassing nickname in front of your friends.)

I'll tuck you in in just a second.

Stop running in the house!

Did I raise you kids in a barn? Look at this mess! Pick up your room, you'd think a little pig lived here.

Kiss Auntie Bertha, she loves you. (Auntie Bertha smells like perfume so strong you almost choke and fawns over you and doesn't know you exist.)

Hang up your clothes!

Your father is a busy man.

Take out the trash.

What on earth do you need $30 to go to the Mall for?? (especially girls)

Don't get lost! Look both ways before crossing the street.

Watch your little brother for me while I go to the store.

Say You're sorry.

Put it back.

Put that down. Hold the baby/kitty like THIS, not by its leg/tail.

Come here this instant. I said, Come here. Did you hear me? Come here. I won't tell you again! - good!

When I was a kid seeing a movie cost only 5 cents.

"Please don't tell daddy, Oh I've already learned my lesson." (her response, If you've already learned your lesson, how come you keep doing it."

What's for dinner? - It's a surprise!

Why didn't you go before we got in the car?

I don't care what your friend has, you aren't getting one!

No, and that's final!

One more word out of you kids and there'll be trouble.

Who taught you to sit/walk/talk like that!!!!

Cut it out right this minute.

Stop bugging your little sister.

What do you say? What's the magic word?

Say "excuse me".

Eat your peas. There are children starving in Bosnia/China/Ethiopia/Russia/India/parts of our great country (USA)

Half begun is half done.

Don't lie to me young man/lady!

Why don't you watch something educational for a change. Like Public Broadcasting on TV! Mel Torme is on tonight.

What do you mean "Elvis isn't cool"? He was cool when I was a kid! Does that mean that hula hoops aren't cool anymore either?

Go scrub that paint off your face this instant. No daughter of mine is going to shave her legs (or wear stilettos) until she's at least thirteen! (Moral: don't ask!)

That bathing suit's too skimpy, hon. Try this one.

Purple's not your color, you look sallow.

Now son, parkas will never go out of style.

See, it matched your wide wale corduroy trousers with the flares I got you last week!

Cut your hair! You look like a hippie. No son of mine is going to walk around looking like a Yeti.

Stand up straight and stop slouching.

A little bit of hard work never hurt anyone.

Save a lot, spend a little.

Don't run with that. You'll poke your eye out.

We worried sick!

What will the neighbours think?

"What did you DO until 4 AM?"

Is having a good time all you think about?

You're no child of mine!!! Well... What seems to be the problem with you?

I'm really worried about your grades!

I give you a simple job to do, and you can't even do it!

There are lots of boys who would love to change places with you! Where did we go wrong? keep doing that and you'll go blind!

"Still Crying?" Whack!!! " The spanking will continue until YOU STOP CRYING!"

Depressed for no reason? I'll give you a reason to be depressed!

You're going to enjoy this holiday if I have to break every bone in your body!

I'm God Almighty as far as you're concerned! (I. e. do what I say!)

Nothing if you do, HELL if you don't.

This is the worst looking pig stye I have ever seen!

Bill, er John, er.. David.. uh.. whats your name, get over here! (siblings names)

Do you know how many HOURS I was in labour with you???

I slave for hours over a hot stove and this is the thanks I get?!

Eat it and don't argue, it's good for you.

Whatever doesn't kill you will just make you stronger. Variation: Shovelling snow/ mowing the lawn/ (any other back-breaking labour) builds character!

Do you have to do that? (regarding most tom-boyish activities)

Are you really going to wear that?

I thought these shoes were ugly, so I knew you'd like them.

Honestly, sometimes I think you need Garanimals tags on your clothes.

You're so stubborn, you'd argue with the Pope.

When it's cold outside, don't stick your tongue to metal (I'd *never* thought of it before... but I was thinking of it now!!!)

It's always fun until somebody gets hurt.

You. Kid! Whatever your name is!

The difference between think and know is, he thinks he's your father, I know I'm your mother.

Some day I will throw this ridiculous machine (my computer) out of window.

Turn the music off! I SAID TURN THE MUSIC OFF!

I hate computers.

Stop it or I will give you away to the next band of gypsies that come by.

You did WHAT! "Go tell your father he wants you now." [in response to the I don't want to wash my hands....]

"Okay, only wash one of them" [In response to "where is my....?" type questions]

"the uterus is not a homing device."

There'll be tears before bedtime! (threatened spankings - sometimes the threat worked)

You'll have your eye out with that! (any dangerous activity)

When you grow up, I hope you have two, JUST LIKE YOU!!!

Are you sure you're telling the truth? Think hard.

Does it make you happy to know you're sending me to an early grave?

You feel bad? How do you think I feel?

Aren't you ashamed of yourself?

Don't you know any better?

Why did the kitty get run over? It was God's will.

How could you be so thoughtless?

If that's the worst pain you'll ever feel, you should be thankful.

You can't fool me. I know what you're thinking.

If you can't say anything nice, say nothing at all.

When are you going to grow up?

I'm only doing this for your own good.

Why are you crying? Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about.

What's wrong with you? Someday you'll thank me for this.

You'd lose your head if it weren't attached.

Don't you have any sense at all?

If you keep sucking your thumb, it'll fall off.

Why? Because I said so.

I hope you have a kid just like yourself.

Good children always obey.

Are you lying, or are you just think you can fool me?

Quit acting so childish.

Boys don't cry. [as I break into a Cure tune...]

If you keep making faces, someday it'll freeze that way.

Why do you have to know so much?

This hurts me more than it hurts you.

Why? Because I'm bigger than you." [variation: "Because I'm the Dad/Mom." ]

(After a spanking.) Now are you happy?

Oh, grow up. I'm only doing this because I love you.

In my day we didn't have money to throw around. We were so poor my sister and I had to share a pair of shoes to get to school, and half way there we traded so we could hop on the other foot.

Does it look like I'm made of money?

Money doesn't grow on trees you know.

You better pull that bottom lip in,, a pigeon's gonna fly over and poop all over it, it's hanging out so far.

If you wouldn't put your hand in the way when I spank you, you wouldn't get it hit with the belt.

That's not music; that's just NOISE! "

Shut your mouth and eat." (Huh?? )

(Attributed to John Lennon's Mother): "The guitar is all very well, John, but you'll never make a living out of it."

Because you are taller than me.

I don't care if the POPE is doing it/going there! You're not!