Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer Linda Bethea – #Family Talk

I think we all have “family talk” that outsiders don’t get.

A much-used phrase in our family is, I don’t like what I wanted.

It was first uttered by my little niece, Chelsea. She had a quarter and spent the morning begging her mother to walk her to a nearby store to put the quarter in a vending machine for a prize. As soon as her afternoon nap was over, off they walked for her prize. Upon popping her quarter in, a capsule with a lizard dropped in her hand. She hated it and smashed it to the ground.

“Chelsea, you’ve been wanting a prize all morning. Why did you throw it down?”

”I don’t like what I wanted!”

That line comes in so handy. You can use it referring to a car, a man, a job, or the new shoes that cramp your toes. We use it all the time.

My cousin’s husband provided another great phrase. When he was frustrated with her, he’d pronounce, “Don’t go crazy, Sue!” We use that one on each other at least once at every family gathering.

“It couldn’t be helped.”

This one never fails to rile Mother. She used it often, usually after a big goof-up. It entered “family talk” after Mother made a ghastly mess hemming my brother’s new suit pants. It’s best to read that story in its entirety:

Another is You’re gonna have to buy the coffee.

My dad worked with a gifted liar. The man’s reputation was so well-established that anyone who repeated one of his stories had to buy the next round of coffee.

On one occasion he came rushing by and one of the fellows called out, “Sam, stop and tell us a big one.

“I can’t,” he replied. “A man just fell in Smokestack 9 and I have to call an ambulance.

They rushed behind him to discover it was all a lie and he was just headed to the cafeteria.

“I just spent my last two bucks on toilet paper.”

This one originated with my husband Bud. We awoke in the night to hear water spewing from a pipe under the bathroom sink.

Sadly, over an inch of water was standing in the house. It was awful. We jumped into action, but floors and baseboards were ruined. It was obvious we’d be disfurnished for days till life was back to normal. After the initial water was syphoned and carpets removed we sat exhausted on bare concrete floors.

Bud sadly pondered the mess and remarked, “I spent my last two bucks on toilet tissue and didn’t even get to dookey.” Since then, that phrase describes utter disappointment.

”You should have done it already.”

My niece, Haley, kept straddling the new mailbox her father was trying to install, ignoring her father’s orders to stay off it. Finally exasperated, he warned her. “If you don’t stay off that mailbox, I’m going to have to paddle you.” It would have been a first.
She looked him straight in the eye, with all the wisdom of a four-year-old and told him, “You should have done it already.”

“The head’s as dangerous as the rest of it.”

An unfortunate snake slithered into a gathering. Someone chopped it’s head off with a hoe, whereupon my sister safely announced. “Watch out for the head. It’s as dangerous as the rest of it.” You can’t argue with reasoning like that!

“You try to raise your kids right….. .” This is one of Mother’s favorites.

When she met her mother-in-law for the first time, Mamaw gave her a chilly look and pronounced, “You try to raise your kids right and then when they get old enough to help you out, they go off and get married.”

Needless to say, it foretold a poor welcome. Since then, when Mother jokes about neglect by any of us, she dusts this phrase off.

I didn’t want to be in the damn play, anyhow!”

A young relative as coerced by his teacher to be in a school play by his teacher.

“Johnny, you have to be in the play. Your mama and daddy are coming. Your grandma’s coming. Everybody else is in the play.”

Finally, Johnny reluctantly agreed to a one line part. All he had to say was, “Hark, I hear a pistol shot!

When his time came, he called out, “Hark! I hear a shistol pot!” He made a couple more attempts with no better luck.
Disgusted, he stomped his foot and proclaimed, “I didn’t want to be in the damned play, anyway!”

Thanks to Linda for sharing the expressions that have found her way into her family’s archives.  Have you any you can share…..

In our family my mother would often amuse by little malapropisms that still give us a giggle. On one particular occasion my mother announced to all and sundry, including those she met out shopping, that the mattress factory opposite our house was changing hands and being turned into a suppository (depository).

Here is Linda with a little bit about herself.


Now that I’m done with the bothersome business of workday world, I am free to pursue my passion, capturing the stories I’ve loved all my life. The ones you’ll read on my blog are good old Southern stories, a real pleasure to relay. Here in the South, we are proud of our wacky folks. I’ve preyed shamelessly on my family, living and dead, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, often changing the names to protect the innocent and not so innocent.

My mother illustrates my blog. I come from a rollicking family of nuts, hence the name of the blog Nutsrok Enjoy.

51qb8fm4dql-_uy250_About Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad by Linda Swain Bethea (Author) with Kathleen Holdaway Swain (Collaborator & Illustrator)

Born to a struggling farm family in the deepest of The Great Depression, Kathleen enjoys a colorful childhood, enhanced by her imagination, love of life, and the encouragement of her family.

She’s determined to build a better life for herself, getting herself into hilarious situations all along the way. Distinguishing herself in school and the community, she never takes her eyes off her goal.

Just as she’s about to get started, she meets Bill, the man who is going to help her on her way. Everything changes. And then changes again. The true story of a remarkable woman who will inspire you, make you laugh, and see life from a new perspective.

One of the many excellent reviews for the book.

Entertaining  on November 5, 2018

Linda Bethea is a truly gifted story teller! I genuinely enjoyed reading the stories of her mother, Kathleen, growing up. My grandparents never told me stories of the Great Depression, so these stories provided me with much needed insight. The stories are told in a colorful, humorous tone that was a joy to read.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Also by Linda Bethea


In this collection of six serials, Linda Swain Bethea weaves narratives of women through several centuries. The stories span from 1643 to 1957. Beginning in England in 1643, a young couple travels to Jamestown, Virginia, to begin a new life in the American frontier. The rest of the stories travel from West Texas to North Louisiana to the Texas Panhandle to East Texas.

Disease, death, starvation, and prison are faced with stoicism and common sense, and always, with a sense of humor.

The women in each tale stand tall and possess the wisdom and tenacity to hold families together under the worst conditions. Through it all, they persevere, and Linda Swain Bethea’s storytelling is a testament to the legacy they left.

Conversational and homey, you’ll fall in love with the women of Just Women Getting By – Leaving a Legacy of Strength, which celebrates the courage of those women who had no choice but to survive.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

Connect to Linda


My thanks to Linda for another wonderful story of family life and as always we appreciate your feedback.

You can catch up with all of Linda’s guests posts in her Directory

18 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer Linda Bethea – #Family Talk

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Jazz, Chicken Poop, Chopped liver, Old Age, Australia and Sheep farming! | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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