I’ve been on a kick lately to get to the bottom of sayings. After last week’s column I thought I’d tackle a couple of tougher ones. Let’s start with one close to my heart: See Naples and Die.
Vedi Napoli e poi Muori
It was a phrase coined during the reign of the Bourbons of Naples, considered by historians to have been the city’s Golden Age. Back in the 1700 and 1800s, prior to the unification of Italy, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was the wealthiest and most industrialized of the Italian states. Naples was the third most populous city of Europe (after London and Paris), and one of the most opulent. Even today, a visit to Naples would not be complete without seeing the royal palaces in and near the city.
The saying is meant to imply that before you die you must experience the beauty and magnificence of Naples.
I was a young boy when I first heard that saying, but it instilled in me a burning desire to see Napoli. When I finally got there, in the 90s, I almost did die, but not from the beauty of Naples. It was a rugged and dangerous place. We even had to hire a bodyguard to get us from the train station to the car service we had arranged. I guess a lot had changed since the 1800s.
It was a disappointing experience, but it made me think about sayings, and how much impact a few words can have on someone. Once I start thinking on a subject I tend to go off on tangents, and the Napoli reference made me think of another saying…
Eat Shit and Die
I realize this might not be an everyday saying for most of you, but then again, most of you don’t have to put up with my younger brother Chris. So, yes, I have—on occasion—had the opportunity to speak those words with some degree of vehemence. I don’t want you to think ill of me, so perhaps an explanation is in order. That phrase did not originate with me. I don’t know where it came from. The first time I heard it was when my older brother—Doggs, a man known for his flair with language, especially four-letter words—got pissed off at me. He squinted his eyes and gritted his teeth, and then he said, “eat shit and die.”
I can honestly say I was taken back by this. This was a curse I hadn’t heard yet, and it was one to fear.
“Eat shit and die?”
Come on. That’s a horrendous thing to wish on someone. It made such an impression on me that…well, there’s no other way to say it. I adopted the phrase myself.
Origin of the phrase
I didn’t do extensive research on this, but to the best of my knowledge, the phrase originated from a saying soldiers’ used from long ago. The soldiers apparently were fond of repeating that there were only three things a person had to do: eat, shit, and die.
Somehow that got morphed into a curse, commanding someone to: “eat shit, and die.” (Ah, the difference punctuation makes.)
If you ask me, it is one of the worst curses I can think of. What could be worse? First you have to eat shit…about as repulsive a thought as I can think of, and then…when you’re done eating shit—you die! For God’s sake. At least give me a chaser. Don’t condemn me to everlasting eternity with the last taste I had being shit. Come on! Where’s the mercy? How about some seafood ravioli, or veal marsala? I have always told guests who came to my house—eat Mikki’s lasagna and then you can die. But shit?
As I discussed this mother of all curses with my brother Chris, we both agreed that if we had to eat shit, we would prefer it to be Mollie’s shit. Perhaps a little background is in order.
Mollie is a mutant dog. I’m not even sure she is a dog. She looks more like a tank surrounded by a living organism. But Mollie has a unique quality. She has evolved and developed a special filtering mechanism in her ass. We call it the fecal matter separator. What is a fecal matter separator, you ask? I haven’t had it analyzed yet, but from what my brother and I can tell, it is a process whereby the “smell” is separated from the solids in her “waste.” If I wanted to be more crude, I’d call it a shit/stink separator. To be even more blunt—she farts out all of her stink and shits out rocks that have no odor whatsoever.
By the way, that picture of Mollie—where she is tearing the guts out of that duck—they are her real eyes. (Just kidding of course. Her real eyes are worse.)
On the rare occasions I venture into the “dog room” to watch TV, I almost instantly regret it. It seems as if Mollie waits for me to get there, and then she starts…emitting. All night her emissions fill the room with…God-awful smells. If the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) got a whiff of these emissions, they would cordon off the area and send in the men in white suits, and then send us to a decontamination facility for cleansing. But I don’t want to make Mollie seem all bad. To counter the horrendous experience of the emission phase, there is the…
The boulder phase happens outside (thank God) and even though it is not as repulsive as the emission phase, it can be dangerous. Mollie deposits her “nuggets” in the tall grass. If you happen to step on one it could easily cause a sprained ankle, and I’m convinced one of Mollie’s boulders broke the tractor blade. The good thing is, if she happens to have an accident and let one loose inside…let’s just say you could almost clean it up barehanded; it’s that hard. In a blind test you couldn’t tell if you were stepping on Mollie crap, or rocks. I swear.
Where Am I Going With This?
If the day ever comes when you’re looking down the barrel of a gun and the guy at the other end gives you an evil grin and says, “eat shit and die,”…pray that he’s got a bag full of Mollie shit. You might need a hammer and chisel to accomplish the task, but it beats the hell out of the alternative.
Ciao, and thanks for stopping by,
What about you? Got any favorite sayings or curses?