Nobody Likes A Wet Dog, And Other Catch Phrase Creepage

We’re doing some spring cleaning here, and I’m trying to wrangle all the books back into their respective homes.  The baby books we can’t bear to part with go in the basement (Carl’s Birthday, anyone?), the books we love the most go in the living room bookcase, the kid books and the books I don’t want to part with but probably won’t read again go upstairs.  We’ll sort through the stacks on the coffee table and by everyone’s bedside and fit them in where we can, but in a few days they’ll start creeping out and multiplying on every possible surface.

It’s not the house they take over, either — key phrases and lines have infiltrated daily speech around here, too.  I realized this the other day when I asked one of small fry how they were feeling, and they answered “Respectabiggle.” (We’d just finished listening to “The Silver Chair” by C.S. Lewis.) It’s become the new catch phrase, joining several others that have become a part of our daily speech. Favorites include:

“Word of knightly honor,” from Igraine the Brave (Cornelia Funke)

“Nobody likes a wet dog,” slightly changed from To a Stranger Born in a Distant Country Hundreds of Years From Now(Billy Collins)

Not even damp, just a gratuitous cute pic from the puppy days.

“Hop it!” spoken by the mother trying to get the kids moving.  I think we stole it from Peter and the Starcatchers (Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson)

The last two are cheats, coming from movies based on our favorite books:

“You think that, Jane, if it gives you comfort,” from the A&E production of P&P.  (Used by my husband when I am being overly optimistic about someone.)


“What about second breakfast?” Elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea?  Dinner?  Supper? He knows about them doesn’t he?” (Said when the small boy is complaining about being hungry.  Again.)

What phrases have made it out of the pages and into your life???

Liz Michalski


  1. Vaughn Roycroft on January 17, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Sadly, we use mostly movie catch phrases around here, but happily one of them is “What about second breakfast?” I use “Nobody likes a wet dog,” too, whenever our enthusiasitic greeter encounters a beach stroller, who she is positive will love meeting her. I didn’t know where it came from, but it’s apt, and most passersby agree. How wonderful, your creating a culture of literary appreciation in your family. And it sounds like it’s happening so organically. Very admirable. 🙂

    • liz on January 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      Vaughn, thanks for the props, but check back with me in 18 years. It is an ongoing work in progress, and the jury is still out. (Although I think I can claim victory on behalf of my daughter. I sadly have found myself TAKING HER BOOKS AWAY as a consequence to get her to do something. The small boy, we’ll have to see.)

  2. Christine on January 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    We most often quote Dr. Seuss… even though we haven’t cracked a Seuss book in like 5 years! But so many situations in life lend themselves to Seussian wisdom, dontcha think? When searching for something: “And clover by clover by clover he found, that the one he was searching for was just not around!” When responding to manufactured chaos/panic at work: “Mr. Mayor Mr. Mayor!” And when something isn’t clear: “Oh my dear I cannot hear, there must be something in my ear, there must be something there I fear!” to which the reply is usually “Is it a banana?” (quote from the Charlie the Unicorn song “Put a banana in your ear”–look it up on YouTube when you need some extra siliness).

    One of our favorite movies to quote is The Emperor’s New Groove, mostly: “I’m not listening!” and “A llama?? He’s supposed to be DEAD!!” (don’t ask).

    • liz on January 17, 2012 at 6:41 pm

      Or … “A person’s a person no matter how small!” Though I think the small boy might use that to demand certain rights, like a later bedtime. I haven’t seen The Emperor’s New Groove — I’ll have to add it to the list. Thanks.

  3. Miz S on January 18, 2012 at 5:50 am

    Josh and I quote Dr. Seuss sometimes, too. Specifically, “Somebody, somebody has to, you see.” We use it whenever an onerous job comes up that neither one of us wants to do. The entire paragraph reads as follows (and the rhythm is just fantastic):

    This was no time for play.
    This was no time for fun.
    This was no time for games.
    There was work to be done.
    All that deep, deep, deep snow,
    all that snow had to go.

    When our mother went down to the town for the day,
    She said, “Somebody has to clean all this away.
    Somebody, Somebody has to, you see.”

    Then she picked out two Somebodies. Sally and me.

  4. Balance « Secrets and Obsessions on January 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    […] Comments « Nobody Likes A Wet Dog, And Other Catch Phrase Creepage […]

Leave a Comment