And, when the references are positive, they will frequently be made about another person:
“She’s just as cute a baby as you were.”
“I hope you grow up to be as kind a person as your uncle.”
“You’re just as smart as grandma, and she’s brilliant.”
At the same time, one seldom hears a negative comparison being made about another person, especially another family member.
“You know, if your sister doesn’t do something quickly, she’s going to end up as homely as your mother.”
“Hoo-w-e-e-e-e! You smell as bad as your cousin Carl.”
“Our daughter would probably be a lot smarter if your dad hadn’t been so stupid.”
“If you end up half as good as your brother, I’ll be thrilled.”
So… Positive references? Most often about other people.
Negative references? U-m-m-m-m-m. Well…
Well, for centuries now, the primary need to draw comparisons – mostly negative -- has been focused squarely on a wide variety of species from the animal kingdom. Animals, such as dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs, sheep and many others, have served to define just how annoying one person views another. “I mean, I really can’t say she’s as dumb as her dad… Hey! Wait a minute! I know! She’s dumb as an ox! That’s it.
While the ox itself is calmly standing there, wondering, “What the fu… Dumb?! Where did that come from? You don’t even know me.”
Doesn’t matter. Many years ago, someone decided the ox was dumb, and now it’s a well-known fact. You want dumb? Talk to the ox. Seems terribly unfair. To my knowledge, no oxen have ever been formally tested to determine a more accurate gauge of their intelligence.
“They’re just dumb.” say scientists. “Now, let’s devote our research time to defining why the fox is so sly. That’s what people really want to know. Especially, if it’s a ‘stone fox.’ Men have struggled with that one for generations.”
And, there doesn’t seem to be any logic as to how certain characteristics are assigned among animals. In fact, you can pick just about any personality or physical trait common to humans, and – just like that -- there’s a variety of animals ready to be held accountable. And, in many instances, theexact same animal can be a symbol of both good and bad.
Let’s start with human characteristics generally viewed as positive. If, for example, one is felt to be intelligent, endearing, clever or neat-and-clean, then, by definition, that individual has:
Real “Horse sense.”
The “memory of an elephant.”
The “Courage of a lion.”
The “Cuteness of a lamb.”
The “Guy works like a dog.”
The ability to “Jump like a kangaroo.”
The “cleanliness of a cat.”
U-m-m-m-m… Excuse me… The “cleanliness of a cat?” Well, to be perfectly honest, have you ever noticed how cavalier cats are about their litter box. Seriously, what other animal is not only allowed to “go potty” inside, but actually provided with a private, comfortable area and a specially designed toilet for their own personal relief? None that I can think of. And yet, how often have you gone to change their box, only to find litter and turds scattered all over the place?
You give that same “indoor option” to dogs, and they’ll do whatever it takes to please you.
“Get that newspaper for you, Sir? Right away.”
“Alert you whenever someone is coming to the house? Consider it done”
“Find you real quick if grandma falls down the well? My pleasure.”
“There’s a log outside my litter box?! Gimme that scoop, Sir. It’ll never happen again.”
But, “Clean as a cat?” No, not exactly. Try “Ungrateful.”
So, clearly, the number of positive references to any human/animal comparisons is extremely low. Plus, “positive” is not nearly as popular for those involved.
Here’s the issue… You want the real reasons we need animals as our “scapegoats?” It’s so we can be highly critical of others, without being hurtful to them.
That’s right. And please note: How so many of these analogies have you ever – ever -- witnessed in true nature? Ever? And, to be even more specific, let’s break it down by type of animal. For example:
The Canine Family:
“My dogs are killin’ me.”
“Her furniture is looking a little dog-eared.”
“He used to take care of himself, but he’s sorta gone to the dogs.”
“He’s always been a lone wolf.” Wolves seem to be either “lone” or traveling in packs. Apparently, they don’t do well in small groups.
“She’s a real wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
“He said he wasn’t hungry, but he sure wolfed that down.”
“She’s not much of a swimmer. Has to dog paddle.” I’m not familiar with the “dog backstroke,” but perhaps it should be taught in obedience school.
The Feline Family:
“Let’s see if the bitch lands on her feet this time.”
“She’s a leopard. She just can’t change her spots.”
“He’ll wish he had nine lives.”
“How much for some pussy?”
The Equine Family:
“Ah, Horse feathers!”
“What’d you step in? Horse manure?”
“He’s a crook. A real horse-thievin’ jerk!”
“I mean, he is stubborn as a mule!”
“He seems to have the mule skinner blues.”
“Be careful around him. He kicks like a mule.”
“He may have a miserable personality, but he’s hung like a mule.”
The Bovine Family:
“Watch that guy. He can be a real cowboy.”
“You know, a pair of cowboy boots or cowgirl boots are like hemorrhoids. Sooner or later every ass gets one.”
“He just got a new ‘rug.’ Looks like he’s wearing a cow pie on his head.”
“I get so sick of her bull-headed attitude.”
“Aw, bull shit.”
The Swine Family:
“Does he try to be as filthy as a pig?”
“How long as he been fat as a hog?
“She thinks she’s in hog heaven.”
“He may be eatin’ high on the hog today, but he better watch out…”
“She starting to look a little nicer, but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”
“He needs to be hog-tied and horse-whipped.”
And I hope I never have to wait for something until, “Pigs fly out of my butt.” Hard to imagine wanting anything that badly.
“I used to work with the guy. He’s worthless as tits on a boar.”
“I’m sorry you can’t get to sleep. But, get your hands off me and try counting sheep.”
“Ask any shepherd and they’ll tell you: Sheep lie.”
“Well, as usual, he’s drunk as a skunk.”
“Why would I want a rabbit’s foot? Certainly wasn’t lucky for the rabbit.”
“Watch yourself when he gets t’ drinkin’. He’ll go squirrely on ya’.”
“I tell you what. That man can comb his hair and end up horny as a goat.”
“I’ve seen her lose her temper before. You say the wrong thing and she’ll go ape shit.”
“Been a long time since I’ve seen a beaver get excited about anything.”
And, finally… I can understand why people ask me to do something unnatural. But why do they have to include the horse I rode in on?
How about that?