Everyone has sayings and phrases that they associate with home, with specific, different social groups they may be a part of, and private jokes between friends. Language acts as a mnemonic cue. A simple phrase may unlock entire rooms or wings of associated meaning and memory. It goes beyond “y’all” and other widely acknowledged features of the Southern colloquy. I’ll find myself saying things like “Better than a sharp stick in the eye.” Pretty much all things, ever, are better than that, wouldn’t you think? For as long as I can remember, my Dad has said that. It’s equivalent to Hobson’s Choice, in which you must decide between the option presented or nothing at all.
“Get your dry goods on.” is another one. I can thank Mom for that one. Most people don’t have the first clue what “dry goods” even are, much less how to get them on. That harks back to the era of the general store, which sold a variety of tools, foods, and implements, including some clothing or cloth–dry goods. Get them on and let’s go. We’re wasting valuable time with you standing there with that fly-catching look on your face. I reckon we could’a been half-way to wherever it was we were going by now. It’s important to note that getting your dry goods on indicates a different sense of urgency from getting your skates on–it’s less hurried than that.
I really don’t wonder why people whose experience with the South is limited to popular fiction and reality television would just stare at me. I don’t live in Duck Dynasty. I live in the real world most of the time, and I come from an alternate dimension known as Georgia, in which you really should do drugs if your grip on reality is in any way tenuous or subject to crumble beneath the pressures of weirdness. A healthy sense of humor is, of course, your best defense.