‘You’ll have your hand on your head with a knot under it’
My grandma and namesake, Annie B. Vrana, was an Oklahoma farm woman and one of the most colorful people I’ve known. When she spoke, she painted pictures in your head.
What I didn’t know then that I do know now is that word pictures increase understanding. Because Grandma talked in pictures, we could literally “see” what she was saying.
Here are some of my favorite Grandmaisms. See how she made concepts concrete by turning ideas into things.
What she meant
What she said
|I’m gonna wallop you.||“You’ll have your hand on your head with a knot under it.”|
|He’s lazy.||“He was born tired and never did get rested.”|
|He’s vain.||“His head is too big for his hat.”|
|He’s a conversation hog, liar and gossip.||“His tongue is loose at both ends and split in the middle.”|
|Don’t pout.||“Don’t drop your bottom lip like that; you’re going to step on it.”|
|I’ve been working hard.||“I’ve been going all morning in a long, sweeping trot.”|
|Don’t be conceited.||“Don’t get too big for your britches.”|
|I was discombobulated.||“It got so bad, I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.”|
|We started dinner without you.||“We’re waiting for you — like one hog waits for another.”|
|That’s unusual.||“If that don’t beat a hen-a-peckin’ with a rubber bill.”|
What’s wrong with this gene pool?
Now my sister, Lynn, is sounding a little like Grandma. Here are some of the colorful phrases she uses at work:
- Let’s hunt where the ducks fly.
- I did some quick napkin math …
- I’ll shake trees and see if I can get an answer.
- We need to brush out the hairballs on that poodle.
How can you make your communications clearer and more interesting by turning your ideas into word pictures?