When I was preparing my post last week about Dublin and the River Liffey, I remembered one of my teachers in Ireland and a very funny expression she used all the time.
Back in the late 70’s and early ’80’s many of our teachers were nuns. I remember one sister in particular, and her favorite expression.
She was from County Cork and taught chemistry to all the Dublin girls in our class. She was a wonderful teacher – great fun, and easy to listen to with her lilting Cork accent.
Whenever anyone tried to pull the wool over her eyes by making up a story about forgetting homework, she would see right through every paltry excuse. She always answered with the same hilarious expression.
“I didn’t come up the Liffey on a bicycle.”
Everyone in the class inevitably broke down laughing whenever she said it. I think we all had visions of her pedaling her bicycle down the middle of the river, with her veil blowing in the wind.
This expression is a substitute for asking:
“Do you think I’m stupid or what?”
Lets face it, you would have to be a few shillings short of a pound, to attempt to ride a bicycle on water.
I think I will save this saying and adapt it when my kids are teenagers. When they try to pull a fast one on their Irish mom, I’ll just tell them:
“I didn’t come up the Ohio on a bicycle?”
Can’t you just imagine their teenage brow raising, eye rolling and tongue-tutting responses. I better not say it in front of their friends. They’ll probably explain me away with:
“Don’t mind her – she’s Irish!”
And so, to all you parents of teenagers, please feel free to adapt this lovely Irish expression, by using the name of your local river. Our New Yorkers can say:
“I didn’t came up the Hudson on a bicycle.”
Bostonians can say:
“I didn’t come up the Charles on a bicycle.”
The possibilities are endless.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)