“This is the South and we’re proud of our crazy people. We don’t hide them up in the attic, we bring them right down to the living room to show them off. No one in the South ever asks if you have crazy people in your family, they just ask what side they’re on.” – Dixie Carter
Southerners love eccentrics. William Faulkner walked about town in his Royal Air Corps uniform. In Memphis, Robert Hodges, better known as Prince Mongo, is often seen around town with a long wig, aviation goggles, and a rubber chicken attached to his jacket.
Not surprisingly then, Southerners have many phrases to describe beloved characters.
As crazy as a betsy bug.
Note: The “bessie” or “betsy bug,” is also known as the “horn beetle”, “patentleather beetle” and “pinch bug.” They fly erratically and make lots of noise, and seem…well…crazy.
As crazy as an outhouse rat.
Meaning: Only the crazy rats would live in an outhouse.
Crazier than a dog in a hubcap factory.
Crazy as a dog in a cat factory.
Crazier than an outhouse fly.
Meaning: Aggressive and crazy.
Crazy as a runover cat.
Fact: A disorder known as Hyperesthesia is a condition that can make a cat react as they’re having a can nip fit. This disease can actually cause the skin along the spine of your cat to ripple.
Crazy as a shot at rat.
Note: Ratshot is very small lead shot cartridge (typically #12 shot) for use in rifled firearms.
Crazy as a soup sandwich.
Note: If you don’t think that’s crazy, make one and try to eat it.
Crazy as a sprayed cockroach.
Meaning: Running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
He’s about half a bubble off plumb.
Fact: The “plumb bob” has been used since at least ancient Egypt to ensure that buildings are “plumb”, or vertical.
He’s nuttier than a squirrel turd.
Fact: Never seen a squirrel turd? You probably won’t. Squirrels can defecate on the run and the skat is the size of a grain of rice.
He’s two bricks short of a load.
Also: A beer short of a sixpack. Or a few logs short of a cord. Or a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Or one fry short of a Happy Meal. Or three pickles shy of a quart.
He’s lost his vertical hold.
Rather than: Crazy as a cat in catnip.
Head full of stump water.
Note: In “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” Tom Sawyer proposes “stumpwater” or spunkwater as a remedy for warts.
Kangaroos are loose in the top paddock.
“Eccentric: A man too rich to be called crazy.” – Anonymous
Loopy as a crosseyed cowboy.
“Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense.” – Steve Landesberg
Nuttier than a five-pound fruitcake.
Russell Baker claims to be in possession of a fruitcake that a relative baked in 1794 as a Christmas gift for George Washington. (He allegedly sent it back.) Baker and his relatives gather each year to savor a tiny morsel of the fruitcake.
Nuttier than a porta potty at a peanut festival.
Fact: The National Peanut Festival is largest peanut festival, held each fall in Dothan, Alabama.
Only got one oar in the water.
Note: The expression dates back to the sixteenth century and has turned up in all sorts of different formulations down the centuries.
She’s got a bee in her bonnet.
Note: This saying has been around since the late 1790s. It also means to be “obsessed.”
The cheese slid off of that boy’s cracker!
Rather than: I don’t know whether to come home or go crazy.
The elevator don’t go all the way to the top.
Fact: The highspeed elevators in Taipei 101, the world’s tallest building, have a maximum speed of 37.6 mph.
The roof ain’t nailed tight.
“Insanity doesn’t run in my family; it gallops.” – Cary Grant
The wheels are still turning, but the hamsters died.
“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” – Hunter S. Thompson
You don’t have to hang from a tree to be a nut.
“Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children.” – Sam Levenson
Tim Heaton is an Ole Miss Alumnus from Southaven, Mississippi who supports The Flagship in a variety of public relations efforts. He is a contributing writer to HottyToddy.com and actively volunteers his technical, database and social media expertise to several community service organizations in his current home in Morristown, New Jersey and in his home state of Mississippi. He has been awarded over a dozen US Patents in technology and is also a published author, chef and physical fitness enthusiast.