"" Writer's Wanderings: This Isn't My First Rodeo

Monday, April 23, 2018

This Isn't My First Rodeo

This weekend I went to get my nails done. Almost anywhere you get your nails done the staff is Vietnamese. The nail salon I frequent is not any different. The nail tech I had this time was chattier than most are and he struck up a conversation. When I went to put my hand in the light box that sets the gel polish I did it correctly to which he remarked, "This isn't your first rodeo."

I laughed. It sounded strange coming from someone whose first language isn't English. I answered, "No. And I hope I don't fall off the horse."

Then ensued a conversation about the origin of "This isn't my first rodeo." I had no idea but did offer that the "Goodnight, don't let the bed bugs bite," probably came from cowboys whose sleeping bags would get bugs in them when they slept out on the range. Maybe the rodeo phrase did too?

Well, inquiring mind that I am, I got home and started searching the phrase. It had nothing to do with cowboys directly. The best I could find was that it originated with a movie, Mommie Dearest, staring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford. The movie was based on a book written by her step-daughter that was a memoir and did not put Crawford in a good light. In the scene where Crawford is dismissed from the Pepsi board, Dunaway's line is "This ain't my first time at the rodeo." The remark is not in the book so really must be attributed to the writer or writers of the screenplay.

The movie was in 1981 but several years later, in 1990 a recording artist, Vern Gosdin wrote and recorded a song, This Ain't My First Rodeo. He claimed to have heard some construction workers say that and jotted the phrase down to make into a song.

Now the research got a little more interesting when I read that in some parts of the country instead of the rodeo reference, you might say, "I didn't just fall off the turnip truck." And if you were from the UK, you might say, "I didn't come down with the last shower" (or yesterday's shower).

Every language has its sayings and idioms. The idioms drove me crazy learning Spanish. Our Hispanic friends went into peals of laughter when I messed up the idiom for feeling chilly. I had literally said I was frozen solid or perhaps worse--they did laugh a long time.

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