An English In Kentucky


















Thursday March 21st 2019Tim Candler9


    Have a vague memory of an expression that had something to do with not teaching your Grandmother to suck eggs. Never really grasped it, never seen a grandmother suck an egg, had no idea why a Grandmother would want to or have to suck an egg, something to do with false teeth maybe otherwise how would she fit an egg in her mouth, at the same time those prone to using the expression always did so in a somewhat supercilious manner, it was aggravating in a nanny nanny boo boo you horrible foreign little boy kind of way, and the assumption in the expression seemed to call a halt to all further dialogue. In the immense amount of research on the Grandmother and egg sucking phenomena, is a suggestion that the expression morphed over time and it did so as a result of a changing status of Grandmothers in a politer society.  One argument suggests that in the 1600's Grandmothers had a way of telling when a Goose was about to lay an egg, and the thing about Geese they're not like Chickens, they can be kind of defensive around their eggs, and can gang up on an egg gatherer, and if you've ever been chased by a Goose you'll know all about high end feral behavior from someone's so called domesticated bird. So in terms of a Goose egg for supper knowing when the Goose was about to lay an egg was fairly critical to overall harmony.



     In the literature there's a strong suggestion that back in those days Grandmothers were reluctant to share their knowledge about when a Goose was about to lay an egg. No record of whether a person was ceremoniously inducted into the Goose Egg Gathering Sisterhood, or whether each Grandmother came to the knowledge as a result of bitter experience.  And you can sort of see it now, sturdy men folk, pretty young things and hordes of urchins grumbling around the kitchen table about how others in the village always had Goose eggs to feast upon and there was none of this constant open warfare in the backyard between Goose and Humankind. The Grandmother secret for those initiated had to do with getting near enough to the Goose so as to be able to feel whether the Goose was close to or at least thinking about laying an egg. So I guess part of the secret had to do with developing a sufficiently intimate relationship with the Goose to make this possible. And I'd argue with some vehemence that a much earlier phrasing of the expression which was "Don't teach your Grandmother to grope the Goose" puts a whole new perspective on the infuriatingly pompous Grandmothers sucking eggs version of the expression that did the rounds when I was callow, and maybe several crayons short of a full stack.


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